BAGUIO

Tourism opening in Baguio mulled

CLOSED FOR DISINFECTION. The PFVR gymnasium was ordered closed following the news of three Baguio City Hall employees stationed at the gym tested positive for Covid-19. (Photo by Jean Nicole Cortes)

A GRADUAL opening of tourism in Baguio City is being mulled for September 2020.

City Tourism Officer Alec Mapalo said the Baguio Visitor Information & Travel Assistance (Visita) will be launched in August as borders may open for tourism in the city.

Mapalo said the Baguio Visita will accommodate a controlled number of tourists per day, with set criteria to be enforced in the place of origin.

He added the illegal entry of tourists will be dealt with as the city plans to gradually reopen tourism with regulated, limited entry and monitored movement by September.

Proposed protocols for tourists include mandatory pre-registration through the Baguio Visita online registration system, pre-booking of accommodation, preferably through accredited tour operators, and declaration of itineraries.

Mapalo said upon entry, tourists will undergo mandatory triage and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing, with expenses shouldered by them. Until the results come out (9 hours at most), they are required to stay in their hotel rooms.

Tourist movement shall be closely monitored by a tour operator and/or hotel management.

On Tuesday, August 4, three City Hall personnel assigned at the PFVR Gym tested positive for Covid-19, which prompted the city to close the facility and suspend the processing of travel documents effective August 5, to give way for disinfection and testing.

Sixteen Covid-positive cases were logged on the same day, bringing the city's active cases to 79.

Mayor Benjamin Magalong, as a safety precaution, ordered the closure of City Hall from August 5 to August 6, with only a limited number of workforce allowed to ensure continuity of operations.

Magalong said contact tracing is underway and has asked those who visited PFVR and City Hall from July 29 to August 4 to go on self-quarantine and seek medical attention if the onset of symptoms occurs.

He appealed to the public to avoid unnecessary travels outside their homes for the next two weeks to prevent the further spread of the virus.

"Please stay home and avoid travels unless absolutely necessary. And please, sustain all our health protocols, too. It's the best we can do to safeguard ourselves and our families," the mayor said.

On the opening of tourism, guidelines for Tour Operators (TOs) and hotels are also stipulated to those with the Department of Tourism-issued Certificate of Authority to Operate (CAO), which allows them to accommodate guests.

Prior to travel, TOs and hotels must require guests to register through the Baguio Visita application. Hotels must ensure the observance of health and safety protocols or else their CAOs will be revoked.

Protocols for city tourism managers include each to ensure regulated and controlled entry and realtime monitoring of tourists’ itineraries through the app. This will also ensure the efficiency of the triage and testing process with supporting health care systems and centers in place.

This includes the protection of personal data and information of tourists, updated advisories and timely information dissemination relevant to locals and tourists and to explore and implement tourism corridors with partner local government units and TOs.

Mapalo said the city tourism office is accepting comments, questions and suggestions through email baguiocitytourismoffice@ gmail.com.


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