December 10, 2022

Tourism is definitely back to being alive and kicking in Baguio and it’s almost like normal.

Since accepting back tourists in November initially at 2,000 slots, the city has added up to more than 5,000 slots from the previous 4,000 slots for leisure travel starting Dec. 15.

Supervising Tourism Operations Officer Alec Mapalo said the highest number of leisure travel arrivals based on Baguio Visita online registration is 5,643 on Dec. 11 and this did not include those coming in as essential/official/business travels, which may be up to 500 a day.

Baguio’s daily average of tourist arrivals in December before the pandemic is 6,000.

In his social media post, Mapalo said the city was able to allow more than the 4,000 limit set earlier since hotels with own triage facilities can now approve and process for their guests independently, beyond the Visita limit but within their allowed capacity.

From Dec. 1 to 12, the city government approved 63,855 travels, 45,812 of which are actual arrivals via the central triage.

Based on assessment, the number is 71.74 percent of the city’s tourism figures pre-pandemic.

“We can say that we’re back in business, with many fully booked hotels, shops, and restaurants having their regular customers, but not necessarily the overcrowding and monstrous traffic,” Mapalo said.

He said despite the number of visitors, the city has manageable traffic and ample space for visitors in parks and establishments, and the city’s central triage is now able to manage its process smoothly with an average waiting time of 15 to 30 minutes.

“This is a prelude to the better normal that will advance and promote responsible and sustainable tourism for all to advocate and enjoy,” Mapalo said.

Mayor Benjamin Magalong added the city monitored around 160,000 travelers (70,000 via Visita and 93,000 through HDF) in November, and about 80,000 in the past 15 days.

“This may still increase. After getting the assessment report of our triage officials and the tourism sector, it comes out very manageable na ang ating mga tourists,” Magalong said.

Travelers are reminded to travel only when their schedule is approved and no QTP, no entry. Only fully vaccinated adults are allowed, minors may present a negative test result if not vaccinated, and 11 years old and below are exempted of the requirement.

The City Tourism Office has also warned the public to beware of scammers, illegal transient houses, colorum vehicles, and other entities after receiving complaints from victimized travelers.

The public is advised to always engage with legitimate and accredited tour operators and tourist establishments.

Mapalo said most of the scamming activities happen in social media, which many legitimate businesses use in transacting with customers, and therefore they advise and vigilance on unscrupulous entities must still be observed.

Listed red flags/tips that may serve as a guide to know one might be being scammed are too good to be true travel packages; no business permit and no official receipt; no official public website or social media; their social media account is just recently created; offering processing of personal requirements; offering services that are actually non-compliant with entry protocols; showing IDs that are not government-issued; declared address is non-existent. – Hanna C. Lacsamana