February 9, 2023

Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong has clarified it was not the intention to leave out the neighboring towns of LISTT or La Trinidad-Itogon-Sablan-Tublay-Tuba of Benguet in the tourism reopening program of the city on Sept. 21 in partnership with the provinces of Region 1.
This was after Benguet Gov. Melchor Diclas earlier claimed that although the province will definitely prepare, the other members of the BLISTT Council were not informed on the city’s plan to reopen its borders to tourists, and that Benguet’s mayors are not yet ready to accept tourists from other provinces.
Last week, some of the mayors criticized the city’s plan for lack of consultation on health and safety protocols.
Explaining it has never intended to preclude its BLISTT partners from being involved in the undertaking, Magalong said he has asked Department of Tourism-Cordillera OIC Director Jovy Ganongan to first consult not only Benguet but all provinces in the region if they are willing to participate in the program.
The city mayor was told the Cordillera leaders begged off for the time being as they were still not ready to reopen to tourists and had agreed instead to first observe the mechanics of the Baguio program.
“The information reassured us that everyone was consulted or that nobody was left out in the planning process, so we moved on with the project,” Magalong said in a statement issued Sept. 9.
Magalong has assured the program will strictly follow the tour package scheme where tourist movements will be restricted and confined to the city and thus will not affect other areas.
“The involvement of our neighboring towns is important as program participants need to pass through them to gain access to the city and this we acknowledge and never intend to disregard. Coordination on border and checkpoint management however can only be done once the guidelines have been finalized and approved by the National Interagency Task Force,” Magalong said.
He added the BLISTT and the whole region have been actively involved in other undertakings, including the most recent initiatives to deal with the pandemic.
On Sept. 1, the city has announced it will open its borders initially to tourists from Region 1 and signed a memorandum of understanding with the governors of Pangasinan, La Union, Ilocos Norte, and Ilocos Sur to explore the establishment of a tourism corridor and mutual promotion of the Region 1 and Baguio tourism, among other commitments. – Hanna C. Lacsamana