B.AGUIO CITY – The Department of Tourism (DOT) welcomes the decision by the Local Government Unit (LGU) of Baguio City to open its doors to guests from Luzon, particularly the National Capital Region (NCR) and Regions 2 and 3, starting October 22 , 2020, noting that the expected influx of tourists will lead to tourist activities that will bring about a faster recovery of the industry.
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The new development was announced as part of the DOT-Baguio Post Opening Assessment, which was carried out today with Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, Mayor Benjamin Magalong, Representative Mark Go and the tourism stakeholders of the City of Pines. The new health and safety measures will be concluded again together with the Technical Working Group (TWG) of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID).
“Hearing feedback from visitors and stakeholders is vital for us to further improve the tourist experience in Baguio. This is the aim of this meeting,” said Puyat in her opening message.
Puyat noted that the maximum of 200 guests allowed per day from October 22nd will ensure proper visitor management. The documentation requirements are being relaxed in the digital platform Baguio Visitor Information and Travel Assistance (VIS.ITA), which has received an encouraging number of 2,000 registrations and around 200 travel requests since its official launch on September 22nd.
The requirement that visitors book their itineraries through a DOT accredited travel agency is now optional. However, you will still need to book in a DOT accredited property that has been issued by a certification body for operation.
“Now that we have actual visitor numbers, the city has an important point of reference and valuable feedback on how we can move forward from this first opening period,” added Puyat.
The DOT funded the VIS.I.TA program for the local government of Baguio through the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) to help reopen the city to tourists, starting with the Ridge and Reef travel corridor in La Union, Pangasinan provinces , Ilocos Sur and Ilocos Norte (BLUPISIN).
“It has been a privilege to work closely with the Baguio local government throughout this process. We saw firsthand how they took effective action to strike the delicate balance between maintaining public safety and reopening tourism to restore jobs and livelihoods lost by the pandemic. The Ridge and Reef project is one of the pioneering efforts to get our industry going again and the whole country is watching closely. Everyone’s determination to do the job responsibly was really inspiring, ”enthused the tourism director.
Puyat added that the expansion of the Greenlane to include the nearby cities of La Trinidad, Itogon, Sablan, Tuba, Tublay or the so-called BLISTT will also be worked out with the respective LGUs.
Panagbenga Festival in Baguio City Photo via DepositPhotos
“With its vision of promoting a green, peaceful, family-oriented travel destination, we count on the BLISTT Tourism Council to be a strong ally in the DOT’s ongoing pursuit of sustainable tourism development. We pledge to support his efforts as we work with local government units to coordinate and prepare for the eventual reopening of the area, ”she said.
Puyat noted that other huge improvements in Baguio include increasing the capacity of the city’s critical health and isolation centers, adding newly trained contact tracers to an already efficient team, and creating a new triage center for tourists in the CAP convention center .
“Another positive development can be traced back to the pilot study for antigen testing, which is currently in the final stages and which may pave the way for screening potential visitors. As this method is cheaper than RT-PCR, the gold standard for COVID tests, which enables the use of antigen tests, will certainly be welcomed by visitors, ”added the tourism director.
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