Slow return of tourism seen

A SLOW return of tourism is eyed for locals to enjoy Baguio City, as borders remain closed for the masses.

Baguio Tourism Officer Alec Mapalo said the plans for next month include the opening of parks with activities like boating and biking, as well as horseback riding.

Next week, on the 111th Baguio Day Charter Day celebrations, activities are eyed to be low-key. The celebration is themed "Angat Tayo Baguio" and is set to open the month with events that aim to launch the slow, sustainable and safe return of the economy and tourism for the city.

Mapalo said plans for the re-formatting of the night market may also be done to accommodate the group of vendors.

The night market might start in the afternoon until evening, and a new layout and safe distribution of sellers will be implemented to accommodate the over 1,00 vendors of the Harrison road bazaar.

Mapalo said safe and health standard compliant biking and boating guidelines are being crafted for implementation, adding that the plans also include movie viewing for the public by the Burnham Lake.

He said the opening of all parks is being planned except for the Botanical Garden, which is being refurbished at the moment.

The City has been making efforts to maintain and improve parks during the pandemic, with plans to plant 40,000 roses at the Burnham Park Rose Garden in time for 2020 Valentine's Day in February.

A new park, the Arboretum at the Lenard Wood area, and the Dominican Heritage Hill will have one entry and exit points to keep crowds at a minimum.

Mapalo said the closing of Session Road once a week for strolling is also being studied with the Sunday activities to be revived when health protocols allow.

In the coming months, the City is also planning to create "tourism bubbles" between Baguio City and Ilocos, excluding areas identified as "red zones" for infection like Metro Manila.

The tourism office is also planning to slowly accommodate business travel and weekend leisure with those from areas under general community quarantine.

Mapalo said the pandemic is taking a toll on the social and mental health of children, thus a sense of normalcy is needed.

In the city, over 50 tourism-related establishments have closed due to the pandemic. Businesses though attempt to operate in a bid to help employees cope with pay cuts despite the losses.

Mapalo admitted it will not be easy for the city to recover the lost revenue, but they look forward to a gradual return in the coming months to usher the New Year with hope of recovery.


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