February 9, 2023

The Baguio City Tourism Office has advised visitors intending to come to the city not to engage the services of bogus tour operators and tour transport services.

The advisory came following a reported attempt to sneak in visitors to the city sans the requirements, such as medical certificate.

“Please be warned of colorum and illegal tour operators, tour transports, or tour guides, including illegal accommodations. They will not ensure you of safety and quality of services. The new normal is in the direction of the better normal – that is, responsible and sustainable tourism,” stated a portion of the advisory posted on the Baguio Tourism Office Facebook account on Oct. 19.

The advisory came with a screenshot of a page looking for individuals who want to join a two-day and one night travel to the city from Oct. 24 and today, Oct. 25, Oct. 31 to Nov. 1, and on Nov. 7 and 8. The post stated there are “no travel authority and medical certificate needed.”

The City Tourism Office has also advised visitors to be responsible tourists and report to the office such unauthorized travel and accommodation services.

“While we have gradually started opening our tourism activities, this will never include the wrong practices of the past. Please help by reporting to us these illegal practices. They will be dealt with accordingly,” the City Tourism Office appealed.

The city government has expanded the coverage of the Ridge and Reef Tourism Corridor Program, which initially allowed visitors from Region 1, to visitors from other parts of Luzon starting Oct. 22.

Under the expanded coverage that still limit the number of tourists to 300 per day, the services of a tour operator or a travel agent have become optional and visitors no longer need to upload their itinerary and booking confirmation when they log in at the Baguio Visitors Information and Tourist Assistance portal.

They are, however, still required to directly book their stay in a hotel or accommodation facility issued with a certificate of authority to operate from the Department of Tourism.

While the requirements of booking and engaging the services of tour operators may have been relaxed, visitors are still required to submit the negative result of their RT-PCR swab test three days before their intended travel. Visitors may opt to undergo swab tests upon arrival at the city borders, but in an earlier press conference, City Tourism Officer Aloysius Mapalo said visitors will have to accept the risk of not being allowed entry to the city if their results turn out positive for Covid-19.

No day tourists are allowed and no tourists will be allowed entry if they intend to stay with their friends or relatives.

The tourism program coverage expansion was recommended by the Baguio Tourism Council and the Hotel and Restaurant Association of Baguio and concurred with by city health officials subject to observance of health and safety protocols against the Covid-19.

As of Oct. 17, there are 15 tourists from the Ilocos Region who arrived to the city since Baguio allowed the regulated entry of tourists on Oct. 1. – Jane B. Cadalig