Ahead of tourism reopening, Baguio City launches online tourist monitoring platform

Rosette Adel - Philstar.com

MANILA, Philippines — The city government of Baguio and the Department of Tourism on Tuesday morning led the launch of the City of Pines’ first online tourist monitoring platform ahead of the reopening of its tourism in October.

Dubbed the Baguio Visitor Information and Travel Assistance, or VIS.I.T.A., the visitor management platform will be used to track the activities of visitor and protect the tourists and the communities.

The DOT provided the technology to the Baguio local government for free through the Tourism Promotions Board in preparation for its gradual reopening to tourists.

Last August, the city government of Baguio announced that tourists who are planning to visit the country’s “summer capital” will be required to pre-register through the Baguio VIS.I.T.A. and also pre-book their accommodations through accredited tour operators.

The city government said there will no longer be a need to secure a travel pass or travel authority because the platform registration also serves as travelers’ pass to the city.

 “This will also complement the stringent inter-provincial border controls designed to safeguard the public's health and safety in CAR and Region 1," Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said during the launch.

Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong and the DOT launched the Ridge and Reef Baguio-Region1 Travel Corridor or the “travel bubble” on Tuesday to pave way for tourists from the provinces of La Union, Pangasinan, Ilocos Sur, and Ilocos Norte (BLUPISIN)

However, Magalong said the actual opening is slated next week.

The mayor, also the country’s contact tracing czar, explained that the reopening of tourism was delayed due to two outbreaks in two barangays he did not identify.

“The event today is the launching of the Ridge to Reef project and at the same time the system but the actual opening will be scheduled next week. Why is that? First, we are still synchronizing some things. There are some technical issues in the system that we have to fix among local government units," Magalong said in Filipino in a virtual press briefing.

“On the part of the city of Baguio, it will give us the opportunity to address the recent outbreak,” he added.

The mayor said the outbreak stemmed from parties among locals.

In view of this, the city government and the DOT are hopeful that the registration-only system will help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 during the looming tourism opening eyed October 1.

The visitor management system contains the following features:

  • Visitor Web Dashboard for account registration, travel registration, payments, QR coupon reading, and dispensing travel advisories and tourism information. 

  • Site Portal for the profile registration of tourism establishments, services, and sites. - Hosts the check in/out mechanism and centralized contact-tracing database. 

  • Admin Interface, for the real-time monitoring of visitor profiles and sites visited; setting registration requirements and visitor criteria. - Contains data analytics and advisories

  • Mobile App, for the mobile version of V.I.S.I.T.A.’s web functions - Receives real-time notifications and can be used as a travel guide and for assistance

The city government said the mobile app will be available on Apple's App Store and the Google Play Store by the end of this year.

"I am praying for the Ridge and Reef Travel Corridor’s success, as it will prove to local travelers that inter-regional tourism can be done safely, responsibly, and sustainably. As confidence in traveling locally grows, we hope to emulate its success in many other areas around the country, giving us valuable momentum for our push towards the tourism industry’s recovery," Puyat said.

She also enjoined the tourism stakeholders to adapt to the “low touch” economy and embrace the digitalization of business processes “as the world moves towards contactless transactions.

Travel corridor updates

Ilocos Norte Gov. Matthew Manotoc said they are now welcoming tourists from Northern Luzon in their jurisdictions. The province reopened the tourism corridor in Northern Luzon last Monday.

On the other hand, La Union and Pangasinan said tourism is now open for Region 1 residents only. They will be reopening to residents of Baguio City mid-October.

Pangasinan tourism officer said they are currently requiring traveling authority from Philippine National Police, medical certificates and pre-booking to residents seeking to visit their province.

"We are hoping by the middle of October, we can already put in place the unified system for all of us in this travel corridor," a representative of Pangasinan said.


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