Baguio expects more tourists under relaxed restrictions

SUMMER CAPITAL. Baguio City is hoping its tourism industry will pick up with the easing of entry protocols. Tourists from general community quarantine (GCQ) and modified GCQ areas are now allowed to enter. (Photo courtesy of DOT)

BAGUIO CITY – The city government here expects more tourists yo visit and enjoy its inviting and enticing sceneries and destinations when the borders of provinces and areas under general community quarantine (GCQ) and modified GCQ are opened up.

City Tourism Office Supervising Administrative Officer Aloysius Mapalo said their portal had registered 700 tourists for the weekend

Executive Order No. 50-A issued by Mayor Benjamin Magalong now allows the entry of tourists from GCQ and MGCQ areas provided they have the approved QR (quick response)-coded tourist pass from online registration platforms.

Tourists from high-risk areas, particularly those under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) like Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal, however, are not yet allowed in for leisure purposes.

Mapalo said all tourists are required “to undergo triage check-ups to make sure they do not have symptoms of Covid-19 aside from the negative test results,”

The city government offers antigen tests for P500 each at the Baguio Convention Center, the central triage for non-residents. The city has set a maximum limit of 3,000 visitors per day but Mapalo said data from the online platform showed Baguio barely reaches 1,000 registrations daily because of the restrictions.

“Those who pre-register do not necessarily arrive in Baguio,” he shared even as arrivals peaked sometime in March when the negative test result was scrapped.

“We had over 6,000 registrations but only half arrived. That was also the time when we were overwhelmed at the triage because they arrived at the same time, creating a queue at the triage),” he explained.

When negative test result was required anew, tourist registration dwindled to less than 5,000, with only 20% of them actually arriving. “Tourist arrival declined steadily after then especially during the implementation of the travel restriction from the NCR Plus bubble,” ha added. Mapalo said the Lenten Season usually sees a peak in tourist arrivals with over 100,000 visitors but for two years now, they had none.

From October 2020 until March 2021, tourist arrivals reached 61,574, including 24,000 last month.