(SPOT.ph) Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong announced in June that they "will open up [their] economy and tourism sometime in September." The Summer Capital of the Philippines will formally open its doors on September 21—but only to travelers from La Union, Pangasinan, Ilocos Sur, and Ilocos Norte. Local residents, on the other hand, can enjoy the city's parks, night markets, and weekly pedestrianization of Session Road starting today, September 1.
According to Sun Star Baguio, Baguio City's gradual opening of tourism to the nearby region was agreed upon during a meeting with Department of Tourism Secretary Bernadette Puyat and representatives from the different provincial governments.
In an ANC interview on June 23, Magalong said that the city lost about P1.4 billion in revenues due to the pandemic's effects on the city's tourism-related activities and crowd-drawing events. The cancelation of this year's Panagbenga Festival, which is held every February, was their biggest drawback.
The mayor explained that the city is rebranding itself as a "safe vacation spot," which follows minimum health standards. Prior to coming into the city, tourists are required to fill out an online registration form where they declare their travel itinerary and pre-booked accommodations. Upon entry, they will be subjected to health inspections and then brought to a triage system for further monitoring. A swab test—with fees shouldered by the tourist—is also required as soon as they arrive. Tourists will have to stay inside their respective hotel while waiting for results, which could take up to nine hours.
"It's just like appyling for a visa," Magalong earlier said about the city's online registration system called Baguio VIS.I.T.A., which is short for Visitor Information and Travel Assistance.
"Under its capable and decisive leadership and a collaborative and responsive public and private sector, there is strong confidence that Baguio will be able to strike a balance between the public’s health and safety with that of economic survival of the tourism industry," Puyat said during a keynote address delivered in the morning of September 1 for the 111th Baguio Day celebration.
With the rest of the Cordillera Administrative Region, Baguio is now under modified enhanced community quarantine. The city has 344 COVID-19 patients with 78 active cases, according to their Public Information Office.
this strange new world.