Baguio eyes gradual reopening to tourism by September

Rosette Adel - Philstar.com
Baguio eyes gradual reopening to tourism by September
Baguio City councilors have proposed to collect fees from tourists.
Philstar.com / Rosette Adel

MANILA, Philippines — The city government of Baguio on Tuesday announced that it is targeting to gradually bring tourism back by September after months of community quarantine in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The City of Pines said that the reopening of tourism would require the regulated, controlled entry and the monitored movement of visitors.

The city government said it would launch Baguio VIS.I.T.A. or the Visitor Information & Travel Assistance, an online registration system, within the month to help manage the tourists who will arrive in the country’s “summer capital.”

The system will be created to control the number of tourists per day and to manage illegal entry of tourists.

By September, tourists will be required to pre-register through the Baguio VIS.I.T.A. and also pre-book their accommodations through accredited tour operators.

As part of the city’s safety precautions, tourists would also be asked to declare their itinerary with city tourism managers overseeing the real-time monitoring of tourists’ itinerary through the tech innovation.

Baguio City said city tourism managers should ensure the protection of personal data and information of these visitors.

“Upon entry, tourists will undergo mandatory triage and PCR (Polymerase chain reaction) testing to be paid by them."

The tourists would then be asked to stay in the hotel until the results of their PCR tests come out.

Baguio officials said they would then be closely monitored by tour operators and hotel management “to ensure the efficiency of triage and testing process, with supporting health care systems and centers in place.”

Results of the PCR test are expected to be released within nine hours.

Last June, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong would only consider reopening the City of Pines to tourists by September at the earliest.

A total of 16 new COVID-19 cases were recorded in Baguio City on Tuesday, bringing the total number of cases to 144 with 79 of them considered active.

On the other hand, there have been 62 recoveries and three deaths.

Last week, Magalong said the city is “experiencing [the] second wave” of the COVID-19 infection. This was a month after it had supposedly flattened its curve.

In view of this, he ordered reimplantation of the Sunday lockdown as well as the liquor ban.

Baguio City Public Market will also be closed every Sunday.

The Department of Health, however, said the country is still in the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic with 47,587 total active cases recorded Wednesday.

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