Baguio to Reopen as a "Safe Vacation Spot"

But it will be gradual.

(SPOT.ph) Baguio City in Benguet is just one of the many tourist destinations that had to close amid the ongoing pandemic in the Philippines. The favorite summer spot even had to postpone (and eventually, cancel) the much-awaited Panagbenga Festival, which is held every February. In the hopes that the country will eventually beat COVID-19, Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong in an ANC interview on June 23 said that they "will open up [their] economy and tourism sometime in September."

Crowds were a common sight at Mines View Park pre-quarantine.
PHOTO BY Christa I. De La Cruz
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The Our Lourdes of Grotto always draws a good number of tourists.
PHOTO BY Christa I. De La Cruz

But he explained that this is based on the assumption that things will normalize in neighboring places like the National Capital Region, Region III, and Region IV; and that Baguio won't be experiencing a second wave of infections. As of writing, the city has a total of 43 COVID-19 patients—only seven of which are active cases—according to numbers by the Department of Health.

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Baguio lost about P1.4 billion in revenues due to the pandemic's effects on the city's tourism-related activities and crowd-drawing events. In response, the local government—according to Magalong—is pooling together a P100-million stimulus package, which will go to micro enterprises and small businesses to jumpstart Baguio's economy.

The city is also rebranding itself as a "safe vacation spot," which follows minimum health standards. Tourists coming into the city will be subject to health inspections and then brought to a two-triage system for further monitoring. They have also institutionalized a technology-based contact system.

Baguio City will be limiting the number of visitors by requiring travel passes. "It's just like appyling for a visa," Magalong said. During peak season like the Panagbenga Festival, Baguio City is visited by about 500,000 tourists; come September, the number will be reduced to about 10% of that. "Once we're used to managing the 10% and learn the dynamics of it, we start to increase it... 20%, 30%, 40%," the mayor added.

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Main photo by Sir Mildred Pierce, Flickr

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