DOT sees ‘better days’ for Baguio tourism amid restrictions

The Department of Tourism (DOT) in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) said it sees brighter days ahead for the tourism industry in the region despite tighter restrictions due to a surge in coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) infections.

“We continue on the fight. We have learned a lot from the two years of experience that we have and we continue to take on the courage to help one another to recover from the economic losses due to the (coronavirus disease 2019) pandemic,” Jovita Ganongan, regional director of the DOT-CAR said in an interview on Tuesday.

Citing that the Omicron variant has taken a toll on the tourism sector, Ganongan said they are glad that the city government did not close its doors to tourists again but only enforced stricter border measures against unvaccinated individuals.

Last week, City Supervising Tourism Operations Officer Engr. Aloysius Mapalo, in a media release, said that the city reduced to 3,000 the allowed leisure travelers while Baguio is still under Alert Level 3.

This is the second time the city has reduced its tourist arrival limit after the holidays when the city started to record an increasing trend in coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) cases at the start of the year.

Mapalo said the measure is to avoid the uncontrolled surge in the number of Covid-19 cases that might affect the previous gains of the local tourism industry.

The latest data from the local government through the online registration portal visita.baguio.gov.ph issued 241,872 individual quick response (QR) codes for tourists scheduled to arrive from January 1 to 16, 2022.

However, there were only 110,217 tourists who arrived.

The highest number of tourist arrivals in the city in a day on the said period was last January 1 with 5,492 tourists. Meanwhile, January 12 saw the least arrivals with only 297 visitors.

The city government also said there were 37,009 travel requests for the January 10 to 16 period but only 3,522 arrived.

The same data also showed that there only 2,072 tourists arrived on January 8; 997 on January 9; 697 on January 10; 439 on January 11; 496 on January 13; 568 on January 14; 667 on January 15 and 358 on January 16.

Mapalo said the city’s registration platform for tourists saw a sharp decline in actual tourist arrivals in the city during the past week compared to the previous weeks when the situation was much better.

The city even increased the tourist arrival limit to 5,000 in December last year, with hundreds requesting to be accommodated for leisure travel.

Mayor Benjamin Magalong earlier said that there is no need to close the borders to non-essential travelers.

“It is the people themselves who do self-restraint. we can feel it in our roads where fewer tourists come and fewer residents opt to stay home as a precaution,” he said.

The tourism sector was said to be the most heavily impacted by the pandemic with thousands of workers losing their income as a result of the lockdown.

Source: Philippines News Agency

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