June 23, 2024

Baguio City is looking at 20,000 daily tourist cap as allowable threshold for tourist arrivals even as assessments continue to determine the tolerable limit for visitors vis-à-vis parameters on traffic and crowd movement manageability and air quality.
The city posted on Feb. 25 the highest single day tourist arrivals since the pandemic started at around 15,000.
The weekend tourist crowd was estimated at 20,000 and vehicle and human traffic was observed to be under control prompting observers to consider the number as the possible daily limit.
The city has been placed under alert level 1 beginning March 1 entailing more relaxed quarantine rules including entry protocols for tourists.
But as much as the city wants to go all out in reopening its tourism industry to help businesses and its economy recover from the pandemic-driven slump, it also has to consider the need to avoid the effects of “over tourism” and ensure the comfort and safety of both the residents and visitors by maintaining some health protocols due to the continuing Covid-19 threat, according to Mayor Benjamin Magalong.
Thus, there is a need to determine the threshold and still maintain some entry requirements like registration with the visita.baguio.gov.ph to monitor arrivals and ensure that the limit is observed, vaccination and negative test results for those who are not immunized.  
City Tourism Operations Officer Aloysius Mapalo said the city wants to “move towards the new normal sustainable tourism” where the needs of the residents, visitors and the economic sectors are balanced and met.
“We can’t afford to overcrowd especially with Covid-19 still around but at the same time allow as many tourists we can tolerate to also help our businessmen recover,” he said.
Mapalo said the city’s maximum accommodation capacity is 25,000 to 30,000 but the city can set its threshold at 20,000.
He explained the city needs to maintain entry requirements particularly registration to monitor arrivals and requirement of vaccination proofs and negative test results “to ensure mutual protection as a surge is still possible without protection.”
“Baguio has the highest vaccination rate among local government units in the north. We can have a good level of confidence for our tourism frontliners they are 100 percent vaccinated and residents, but we like the same confidence for our visitors, thus the required full vaccination before entry.  Triage is a frontline defense to make sure a visitor is truly fully vaccinated,” he said.
Since being downgraded to alert level 2 status last Feb. 16, the city did not impose a quota on tourist arrivals to determine up to what extent the city can take in tourists without sacrificing the safety and comfort of both the residents and the visitors themselves.
Mapalo said that after the city lowered the tourist limit to 4,000 due to its alert level 3 status last January, the city’s actual tourist arrivals dropped sharply last January with only 39,507 as compared to December 2021’s record of 147,145.
It picked up last February with the city registering 46,676 only from Feb. 1 to 20. – Aileen P. Refuerzo