Metro Manila, Cagayan Valley, Region 3 folk allowed to visit Baguio starting Oct. 22

Published October 17, 2020, 5:24 PM

by Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Starting Oct. 22, residents of Metro Manila, Cagayan Valley, and Central Luzon will be allowed to visit Baguio City’s tourist attractions.

The Department of Tourism (DoT) welcomed Saturday the decision of the Baguio City government to open its doors for more tourists from Luzon from Metro Manila and Regions 2 and 3.

The opening of Baguio to more places was announced during the DoT-Baguio Post Opening Assessment involving Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong, Baguio Rep. Mark Go, and tourism stakeholders.

Puyat said the maximum of 200 guests allowed in Baguio per day shall still be implemented to ensure proper visitor management.

New health and safety measures on the reopening will be finalized in coordination with the technical working group of the Inter-Agency Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID), she said.

“Listening to visitors’ and stakeholders’ feedback will be essential for us to keep improving the tourism experience in Baguio,” Puyat said during their meeting.

The city government of Baguio has also decided to relax its documentary requirements for tourists in its Baguio Visitor Information and Travel Assistance or “VISITA.”

Visitors are no longer required to book their itineraries through a DoT-accredited tour agency. However, they will still be required to book in a DoT-accredited accommodation establishment issued with a Certificate Authority to Operate.

The digital platform has recorded some 2,000 registrations and some 200 travel requests since it was launched last Sept. 22, the DoT said.

“Now that we have an actual visitor count, the city has an important reference point and valuable feedback on how to move forward from this initial opening period,” Puyat said.

She noted the increase in the capacity of the city’s critical health care and isolation centers, the addition of newly trained contact tracers to an already efficient team, and the creation of a new triage center for tourists at the CAP Convention Center.

The DoT said that the anticipated arrival of tourists in Baguio will help in the recovery of the tourism industry.

“It was a privilege to be working closely with the local government of Baguio during this process. We witnessed firsthand how they came up with effective policies to find the delicate balance between ensuring public safety and reopening for tourism to bring back jobs and livelihoods lost to the pandemic,” Puyat added.

Baguio earlier opened for tourists from Region 1 as part of the DoT’s “Ridge to Reef” travel bubble program to jumpstart domestic tourism following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Puyat said the DoT has been working with concerned LGUs on its planned expansion of the greenlane tourism circuit to include nearby towns La Trinidad, Itogon, Sablan, Tuba, Tublay, or the so-called BLISTT.

“With its vision to promote a green, peaceful, and family-oriented tourist destination, we are counting on the BLISTT Tourism Council to be a strong ally in the DoT’s ongoing thrust for sustainable tourism development. We commit to support its endeavors as we work with local government units in the coordination and preparation of the area’s eventual reopening,” she said.