May 25, 2024

Confusion and anger met the first day of implementation in Baguio of the national Inter-Agency Task Force resolution that bans travel of residents coming from the National Capital Region and four other provinces, as the city government had to cancel these travels, even when already pre-booked.
City Supervising Tourism Operations Officer Aloysius Mapalo said their office was flooded with calls from tourists as well as hotel managements last March 22 inquiring about scheduled trips to the city to spend the Holy Week, which were booked via the Baguio Visita online portal.
He said around 4,000 registrations for leisure travel to the city for the Holy Week had to be cancelled because of the restriction imposed by the IATF for those coming from NCR, Cavite, Laguna, Rizal, and Bulacan or NCR plus bubble from March 22 to April 4 due to the surge in cases in these areas.
Individuals coming from these areas are allowed to enter the city for work-related and essential travels.
“Those 4,000 were not allowed even if they pre-registered, so medyo marami ang nagalit, pati hotels maraming apektado, because they needed to bring in their guests. But we have to follow, so medyo affected ang ating tourism industry,” Mapalo said in a press briefing March 24.
Mapalo said personnel manning the border checkpoint also have asked for guidance since there were some tourists from the NCR plus with pre-booked travels who managed to get out of the bubble and reached Baguio at the checkpoint.
He said the police personnel had to explain to the travelers the reasons why they cannot enter the city and had to go back to their point of origin.
Mapalo said many might have not been informed of the restriction adjustment because it was relatively abrupt, being issued two days prior to its implementation.
“We said we have to comply with the IATF resolution so it was courteously explained and many of them were sent back, to be firm with the advisory. We cannot really do anything about it,” he said.
He said bulk of Baguio tourists comes from the NCR, so it has a big effect in terms of tourist arrivals in the city. However, the city remains open to other tourists from other provinces subject to entry requirements.
The City Tourism Office continues to entertain registration and pre-booking while advising tourists from the NCR plus areas to pre-register and book their travel to the city after April 4, assuming that travel restriction is not extended.
Activities for the Holy Week and most summer vacation activities normally held in during summer have been either put on hold or cancelled in favor of rehabilitation programs and alternative activities that will not invite large crowds as per local and IATF protocols to prevent further Covid-19 virus transmission. – Hanna C. Lacsamana