BAGUIO CITY — The country’s Summer Capital is ready for the launch of the tourism bubble dubbed “The Ridge and Reef (RnR)” travel corridor, covering the provinces of Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union and Pangasinan, and this city.
City Tourism Officer Engr. Alex Mapalo said the city will only accept tourists coming from these four provinces in Region 1 during phase 1 of the opening of its borders to visitors, which starts September 22.
Mapalo said tourists must pre-register at the online visitors registration system using the VIS.I.T.A application (Visitors Information and Tourist Assistance) that is available on android and IOS.
This would be jointly utilized by the LGUs which will give a confirmation to each and every tourist whether they are allowed to enter or not. Each person will be provided a QR code.
He said the gradual opening of tourism was set in three phases that would include Phase 1 as Intra-Corridor Travel aimed to be completed in two months; Phase 2 for the expanded travel corridor projected months after the launch; and Phase 3 as the sub-national inter-travel projected after three months of the launch.
Initially, only 200 tourists a day will be allowed in the city for easy monitoring of movement.
Guests, who may have relatives or friends in the city, will not be allowed to stay in residential homes, and are constrained to book hotel accommodations to abide by health sector recommendations, and keep residential areas free from travelers.
Tourists will also be prohibited to visit the Baguio Public Market, as the area is one of the most crowded sites in the city.
Visitors will not be allowed to enter the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) campus despite the institution being COVID-19 free.
For the meantime, day tours, or those not requiring overnight stay, and do-it-yourself tours will not be allowed.
La Trinidad, Itogon,Sablan,Tuba and Tublay areas will also be closed for city visitors.
In the guidelines of the Ridge and Reef - Baguio- Region 1 Travel Corridor, the first phase will be an intra corridor that will run from one to two months.
The specific areas covered in Region 1 where travel for leisure would be allowed are Baguio City, San Juan, Bauang and San Gabriel in La Union; Manaoag, Alaminos City and Bolinao in Pangasinan; Vigan, Bantay and Caoayan in Ilocos Sur and Badoc, Currimao, Paoay, Batac, Laoag, Pasuiquin, Burgos, Bangui, Pagudpod, Adams, Sarrat and Vintar in Ilocos Norte.
The tours will be organized featuring up to five-day tours, with mini circuits within the provinces; pre-arranged “staycations” or “workstations” (work at hotels/resorts) with stays longer than five days; and weddings or small event destinations (less than five days), as arranged by Department of Tourism- (DOT-) accredited local tour operators.
The initial period of the tourism corridor in Phase 1, travel for leisure will be restricted, generally allowing only those that are asymptomatic.
Before travel, tourists will be required to undergo a Department of Health (DOH)-prescribed testing method at their own expense.
Under the guidelines, not allowed as tourists in the bubble during Phase 1 to travel to the Baguio-Pangasinan-La Union-Ilocos Sur-Ilocos Norte (Blupisin) Travel Corridor are individuals aged 60 years of age and above (may be modified any time with the advice from medical and health agencies), pregnant women, individuals with existing high-risk health conditions and comorbidities such as cancer, chronic kidney disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, immunocompromised state, obesity, serious heart conditions, diabetes, asthma, cerebrovascular disease, cystic fibrosis, hypertension, neurologic conditions, liver disease, among others. Children who have medical complexity, neurologic, genetic, metabolic conditions or who have congenital heart disease are also not allowed.
Phase 2, which will be between one to two months from the launch, will already allow tourists from other parts of the country with the same quarantine category and risk levels. These areas could be those from Regions 2 and 3, depending on the situation by then.
Phase 3 will be a sub-national inter travel which is from the third to fourth to month from the launch. “LGUs from other parts of the country can be tourist generators, adding tour programs that may include air travel via Laoag City as entry point," the guideline said.
The Ridge and Reef tourism corridor’s Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed this month by Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong, Ilocos Sur 2nd District Rep. Kristine Singson-Meehan, Ilocos Sur Gov. Ryan Luis Singson, Pangasinan Gov. Amado Espino III and Ilocos Norte Gov. Mathew Joseph Manotoc to jumpstart the establishment of the Baguio-Region I tourism corridor geared towards slowly, cautiously and safely opening up the tourism industry in Northern Luzon.
Witnessing the signing of the MOU were Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat, Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) Chief Operations Officer Maria Antonette Velasco Allones, Intramuros Administrator Atty. Guiller Asido, DOT- Region I Regional Director Joseph Francisco Ortega, who also represented La Union Gov. Francisco Emmanuel Ortega and DOT-CAR Officer-in-Charge Jovy Ganongan.