Tourist favorite Baguio City will soon be opening to visitors from Luzon.
The city government said it would begin welcoming tourists from Metro Manila, Cagayan Valley, and Central Luzon starting October 22.
The number of visitors to the City of Pines will be capped at 200 a day.
At the same time, documentary requirements would be relaxed on the tourist platform Baguio Visitor Information and Travel Assistance (VIS.I.T.A), which has seen 2,000 registrations and some 200 travel requests since it launched on September 22.
Vistors would no longer be required to book their itineraries through a Department of Tourism (DOT)-accredited agency. However, they must still stay in DOT-accredited accommodation issued with a Certificate Authority to Operate.
“Now that we have an actual visitor count, the city has an important reference point and valuable feedback on how to move forward from this initial opening period," Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said at a DOT-Baguio post-opening assessment held Friday, October 17.
New health and safety measures would be finalized with the COVID-19 task force (IATF) technical working group.
DOT noted that the anticipated influx of tourists would help in the recovery of the city's tourism industry.
Baguio's VIS.I.TA program was funded through the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB), to support the city’s reopening to tourists, starting with the Ridge and Reef travel corridor within the provinces of La Union, Pangasinan, Ilocos Sur, and Ilocos Norte.
Puyat added that the expansion of the green lane to include nearby towns La Trinidad, Itogon, Sablan, Tuba, and Tublay was being worked on with the respective LGUs.
The tourism chief also noted improvements in Baguio's pandemic response, including the increase in capacity of the city’s critical health care and isolation centers, the addition of newly trained contact tracers, and the creation of a new triage center for tourists at the CAP Convention Center.
“Another positive development can be attributed to the pilot study for antigen testing, which is now in its final stages and may pave the way for use to screen potential visitors. Since this method is cheaper than the RT-PCR, the gold standard for COVID testing, allowing the use of antigen tests, will surely be welcomed by visitors,” the tourism chief added. – Rappler.com