Baguio’s Ridge to Reef Travel Bubble Plan eyed to be replicated nationwide

Rosette Adel - Philstar.com
Baguioâs Ridge to Reef Travel Bubble Plan eyed to be replicated nationwide
This Sept. 2, 2020 photo shows residents visiting Burnham Park during its reopening.
CEPMO Assistant Department Head Rhenan Diwas via Baguio Public Information Office / Facebook

MANILA, Philippines —Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat on Wednesday said the Baguio City’s Ridge to Reef Corridor Plan or the Travel Bubble Plan, a strategy to ensure the gradual and safe reopening of the “Summer Capital” to tourists from nearby provinces, can be replicated across the Philippines.

Baguio City, now under modified general community quarantine, is set to reopen to tourists from BLUPISIN or between Baguio City and the provinces of La Union, Pangasinan, Ilocos Sur, and Ilocos Norte this month in a bid to cautiously jumpstart tourism.

Puyat said this strategy is “worth emulating in other parts of the country.”

"This corridor plan of the BLUPISIN is truly admirable, not only because of the variety of tourism products involved but because of how advanced inter-provincial protocols are in terms of border control, as well as in assuring the health and safety of tourists and communities,” Puyat said.

“It is a clear manifestation of the strong support of the local and provincial leaders to jumpstart tourism, which thousands of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the region rely on. This can serve as a pilot project, and when successful, can be replicated where applicable," she added.

On Baguio City Day last Tuesday, Puyat witnessed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong and governors from the Ilocos region, including Governors Amado Espino III (Pangasinan), Matthew Manotoc (Ilocos Norte) and Ryan Singson (Ilocos Sur).

Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) Chief Operations Officer Maria Antonette Velasco Allones, Intramuros Administrator Atty. Guiller Asido, DOT- Region I regional director Joseph Francisco Ortega, who also represented La Union Gov. Francisco Emmanuel Ortega and DOT-CAR officer-in-charge Jovy Ganonga also witnessed the signing of the MOU.

The Department of Tourism said a Technical Working Group (TWG) was already assigned “to establish the corridor plan and conduct research and other strategies to facilitate tourism and economic recovery in BLUPISIN.”

In June, Puyat said her agency is eyeing to implement a “travel bubble” or the gradual opening of some tourist destinations to other countries, which is also being implemented in countries such as New Zealand and Australia where there are low to no COVID-19 cases, citing that it is also being used by other ASEAN countries.

In her speech during the Baguio 111th charter day celebration, Puyat said that just like Boracay which gradually reopened to Western Visayas in June, Baguio City can expect the reopening of tourism first to its neighboring regions.

“Given these protocols in place, Baguio can anticipate reopening cautiously first to its CAR Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) neighbors and visitors from Region 1 (Ilocos Region),” the tourism chief said, referring to the safety and health protocols such as contact tracing, physical distancing, among others.

Baguio tourism industry's recovery plan 

The city government last month said tourists will be regulated and monitored through online registration system Baguio VIS.I.T.A. or the Visitor Information and Travel Assistance. Before entering the city, they must pre-register and pre-book their accommodations as well as present their itineraries.

For its part, the tourism chief said that the DOT has conducted thorough inspections of tourism establishments before issuing a Certificate of Authority to Operate. It also rolled out digital solutions such as SafePass and Eat-In Express, designed for hotels and restaurants to transition to contactless transactions and enable capacity management.

It likewise conducted online learning courses to help prepare the city for its reopening.

Meanwhile, the DOT, through its attached corporation TPB, has allocated funds to boost the Baguio tourism industry’s recovery.

The TPB collaborated with the local government unit and the Baguio City Tourism Council to implement the following five major projects:

  • Multi-platform digital monitoring application Baguio V.I.S.I.T.A.
  • Sponsorship of a photo contest,
  • Establishment of Baguio Re-Branding Marketing & Promotional Projects,
  • Setting up the baguiocreativecity.com website and e-commerce platform; and
  • Reviving Baguio’s weaving and fashion industry.

"With sustainable tourism as our core advocacy, we have and will continue to ensure that policies are in place for the protection of the environment and the local community," Puyat said.

 "As Baguio readies to open its doors, we are being given the opportunity now to refocus on sustainable and responsible tourism, taking into account the quality rather than the number of tourists entering this iconic and beloved destination,"  she added.

In his state of the city address, Baguio Mayor Benjamin Magalong said the city has drafted a Tourism Resiliency and Recovery Plan, a pro-active and workable plan to prepare the tourism industry for the so-called "new normal." 

“Let me assure everyone that when we open our City, we will slowly open based on our degree of confidence—gradual and calibrated,” the mayor said.








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LATEST UPDATE: November 20, 2021 - 4:10pm

Other regions and provinces in the Philippines considered moderate and low-risk areas will be placed under general community quarantine starting May 1. Bookmark this page for updates. (Main image by The STAR/Edd Gumban)

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