Tourist ban stays in Benguet towns
With the planned opening of tourism in Baguio City on Sept. 21, its neighboring municipalities in Benguet will have to prepare as well.
Gov. Melchor Diclas said the province is willing to cater to tourists as long as strict health protocols will be put in place and followed.
“With the opening of Baguio City, the towns of La Trinidad, Itogon, Sablan, Tuba and Tublay areas will definitely be prepared,” Dic-las said.
He said the BLISTT Council would have to discuss about the opening of the city borders to tourists coming from the provinces of Ilocos Sur, Ilocos Norte, La Union, and Pangasinan. Baguio is yet to coordinate with its neighboring municipalities regarding the matter.
He added that except Baguio, the other members of the LISTT were not formally informed by the Department of Tourism-Cordillera on the planned opening of city borders to local tourists.
Last week, the city government signed a memorandum of understanding with Pangasinan, La Union, Ilocos Sur, and Ilocos Norte for the establishment of the Ridge to Reed travel corridor which jumpstarts the opening of tourism industry in northern Luzon during the pandemic.
Tourism Sec. Bernadette Romulo-Puyat and DOT-Cordillera Officer-in-Charge Jovy Ganongan witnessed the MOU signing.
“We welcome this because we know that it is part of economic recovery but it should be done slowly. If the visitors turned out negative of the virus then they can move around, why not welcome them,” Diclas said.
But Benguet mayors need to talk among themselves about the opening of their own tourism sites. As of now, the mayors are not yet amenable to the opening of local tourism to tourists from other provinces.
“The mayors want to open their place first to local tourists within the province,” he said.
Meanwhile, Puyat said the MOU would soon expand to include other Cordillera provinces once the system of the tourism bubble is established.
Prior to the travel of tourists to Baguio, DOT-accredited tour operators and hotels must require their guests to register at the Baguio Visita application.
The application would monitor in real time the itineraries of the guests as well as ensuring the regulation of tourists that comes in the city. Tour operators and hotels must ensure the observance of health and safety protocols or face revocation of their certificate of authority to operate given by the DOT. – Ofelia C. Empian