Baguio expects 4K tourists to arrive this month

The city’s tourism office hopes to reach the 6,000-mark for arriving tourists this December, the same number when outsiders were allowed entry in October.

Engr. Aloysius Mapalo, supervising Tourism Operations officer on Wednesday said that as of Dec. 1, they have already received around 4,000 requests for travel to the city from Dec. 1 to 31.

At least 3,177 of the requests have been approved and around 100 are pending approval, he added.

“Most of the requests are for weekend travels,” Mapalo said, adding that most of the requests are from Metro Manila residents.

Tourism stakeholders and the city government have reached a consensus, placing a cap of 1,000 tourists allowed to enter the city per day.

The city is getting around 300 to 500 requests per day but a limited number actually completes the process, Mapalo said.

When the city opened its borders to tourists last Oct. 22, more than 6,000 visitors have been approved entry until Nov. 29.

“We’re glad that based on checkpoint registry, around 90 percent of those who were approved to enter as tourists actually arrived and passed the checkpoints,” Mapalo said.

Visitors who register at the VIS.I.T.A.baguio.gov.ph are required to submit several documents like hotel booking confirmation, a negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test result or a negative rapid antigen test including their proposed itinerary.

A Quick Response (QR) code will be sent to the tourist upon approval of the request.

The QR code will be the tourist’s ticket at the border checkpoint which upon verification will allow the tourist to enter. They will be guided by the checkpoint police to the central triage for a medical test before they can be allowed to proceed to their hotel or straight to their tour schedule.

Mapalo said that aside from those who register as tourists, there are also those who arrive in the city via registration with the hdf.baguio.gov.ph for returning Baguio residents and those with personal travels.

Like tourists, they are also required to submit documents prior to approval and issuance of QR code.

Mapalo said personal travels for various reasons are also seen as tourists being non-Baguio residents.

Baguio is the first local government unit in the country to announce the opening of its borders to tourists to allow the resumption of economic activity.

State of tourism

In a separate interview with PNA, Anthony de Leon, president of the Hotel and Restaurant Association of Baguio (HRAB) and general manager of the Baguio Country Club (BCC) said the tourism industry suffered greatly from the effects of the pandemic, with over a billion pesos losses in gross receipts.

“Umaasa kami na kahit konti, ang mga workers sa tourism may maiuwi para sa pamilya nila ngayong Pasko (we are hopeful that the workers in the tourism industry will have something to bring home to their families for Christmas),” de Leon said.

Several tourism industry stakeholders have resumed their operation but these are limited which means employees work only on certain days.

De Leon said since they are on 30 percent operation and their workers report only twice a week, workers receive only eight days of salary.

“Instead of laying off workers, we came up with a consensus to go for a reduced work week than having nothing at all,” de Leon said.

BCC is one of the establishments that remain open during the pandemic, even as several others have opted to stay closed.

“It will take about three years for many of us to recover. You have to consider that there are some who are now operating using personal funds just to extend something to their workers,” the manager said

Source: Philippines News agency

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