BAGUIO CITY – After going on a slow start, the city’s tourism bubble program has started to pick up even as the city government stuck with the agreed entry requirements viewed by some as too rigid.
Mayor Benjamin Magalong said the entry protocols for Ridge and Reef tourism corridor program were reasonable considering the thrust to strike a balance between economic revival and ensuring health and safety in view of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis.
The mayor gave this assessment as City Tourism Operations Officer Aloysius Mapalo said that, as of October 8, a total of 179 travel requests have been received, and 1,701 individual account registrations have been made under the Visitors’ Information and Travel Assistance (VISITA) registration platform and travel guide.
He said 50 requests came from tourists in Region 1; 54 from the National Capital Region (NCR); one from Region 2; 41 from Region 3; 20 from Region 4-A; four from Region 5; two from Region 7; one from Region 12; five from Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR); and one from the United States.
Mapalo emphasized that requests from regions other than Region 1 will be accommodated once these regions have been allowed in the bubble as only Region 1 is being allowed as of now.
A total of 47 requests from Region 1 remain pending with travel dates spanning October to December. The were 31 from Pangasinan, followed by La Union, 14; Ilocos Sur and Norte with three apiece.
“Pending travel requests may be disapproved if requirements are not completed prior to intended date of travel,” Mapalo said.
Magalong said health and safety of the community was a priority, and the city will continue to require negative results of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) diagnostic tests for all tourists and visitors, including travelers, returning residents, overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), before entering the Summer Capital.
He said the program will be pursued despite spikes in the number of COVID-19 cases in the city because the situation remains manageable.
“We should now move on from risk aversion to risk management. We should now be ready to take risks while ensuring that systems are ready to address any eventuality,” he said.
“Baguio City is capable of managing the situation. Our cases maybe high but we also have high testing capability and contact tracing efficiency ratio. What is scary is if the contact tracing comprises only 25-30 percent of the daily cases and as it is, we have as much as 80 to 90 percent,” Magalong noted.