March 27, 2023

Baguio City still stands to bloom and grow after 111 years, as it withstood the tests of time despite previous calamities and disasters greatly affecting it and its residents, and this current Covid-19 pandemic is no exception.
The city remains to be the refuge being sought by Filipino and foreign tourists alike to escape the sweltering heat of the rest of the tropics.
But with the Covid-19 pandemic paralyzing the travel and tourism sectors globally, Baguio is set to test a system that would put in place health protocols in the industry – with the aim of slowly opening up the city for travel and tourism to revive the economy that is dependent on such.
That said, the city’s plan for reopening local tourism to let businesses operating within the travel and tourism sector to gain back what they have lost is a needed move towards the city’s economic recuperation.
But this requires putting in place stricter health protocols that would further challenge the city’s Covid-19 response while allowing travel and tourism to restart. It’s a delicate balance between the two.
Medical experts state that the more movement, the more likely the virus could be transmitted. And the government has been preventing the spread of the virus through a series of community quarantines in varying levels that restrained people from much movement. But not all are covered by restrictions, as food pass card holders and authorized persons outside of residence, who are not spared from the virus infection, are allowed to be in and out of the city borders.
While people’s health is a top priority, the movement of the economy should also be considered to keep the community afloat.
This has also been the statement of the United Nations World Tourism Organization, stating that globally the pandemic has caused a cut in international tourist arrivals in the first quarter of 2020 to a fraction of what they were a year ago.
This scenario has put 100 to 120 million direct tourism jobs at risk on a global scale, due to the travel restrictions in place.
To cushion the blow, the city government is embarking on implementing the regulation of tourists coming into the city. Department of Tourism-accredited tour operators and hotels must require their guests to register at the Baguio Visita application prior to their travel. The application would monitor in real time the itineraries of the guests as well as ensuring the regulation of tourists who come in the city.
To mitigate local transmission as a result of reopening local tourism, the city government must strictly impose the screening guidelines such as requiring tourists to undergo RT-PCR tests in Baguio and not from the point of origin and only those from the low-risk areas are to be allowed to go in.
City Hall has assured the public the dry run for this system would be conducted sometime this September.
It has been a long-time request of Baguio residents that tourists coming in the city should be regulated. It’s high time for the city to test the system in this pandemic, to jumpstart the economy fueled by travel and tourism. This could also be used, but with revisions, on the conduct of travel and tourism in Baguio in the future.
As Baguio readies to open for travel and tourism, so should the outlying Benguet municipalities. The city needs to talk to its neighbors to also prepare its tourism guidelines in preparation for tourist arrivals. This, as with the interconnectivity of Baguio and the outlying Benguet towns, tourists from Baguio would still include its neighboring areas in their itineraries.
Benguet should also have in place a visitor regulation strategy to make sure the number of tourists would be properly screened.
Covid-19 would be around for a while, thus, we have to live with it but live with precautions.
Baguio, together with the rest of the world, is looking towards the normal flow of things to come, though some things would never be the same as before.
For now, everyone’s cooperation and understanding are needed and with hope, we say, “Sa ika-111 na anibersaryo, angat tayo Baguio.”