BAGUIO Day celebrations were marked with an alliance from neighboring provinces on the slow return of tourism.
Presided by Mayor Benjamin Magalong and Department of Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, officials from Ilocos inked a memorandum of agreement and support to open tourism on September 21, creating "tourism bubbles" in a bid to gradually open economies in Baguio, La Union, Pangasinan, Ilocos Sur and Ilocos Norte.
Ilocos Sur's Second District Representative Kristine Singson Mehan, Pangasinan Governor Amado Espino Jr., Ilocos Norte Governor Mathew Marcos Manotoc and Ilocos Sur Governor Ryan Luis Singson agreed to partner with the city to prepare the "tourism bubbles" and carefully craft package tours in accordance to strict health protocols.
Magalong said the formal launch of the project is set September 21 with the city using the Baguio Visitor Information and Travel Assistance (Visita) application for incoming visitors who will be availing themselves of tour packages from operators and will be assisted during scheduled stay.
The Baguio Visita application will be used to register and approve incoming tourists in the planned partial opening of tourism to the four areas.
Baguio Visita will accommodate a controlled number of tourists per day and propose protocols for tourists, which include mandatory pre-registration, pre-booking of accommodation through accredited tour operators, and declaration of itineraries.
Tourist movement will be closely monitored by a tour operator and hotel management.
Itineraries of visits to any of the areas will be backed by health protocols and travel papers checked and confirmed while itineraries will be made to control crowds and zoning of sites to be visited.
"Tourism and agriculture is the biggest sources and livelihood [in Ilocos Norte]... This is everything to us, I am confident and I believe in the competence with our fellow governors. We hope to welcome everyone from Baguio to come and enjoy the white sand beaches of Pagdpud, the windmills of Bangi and come taste our orange empanada and bagnet," Manotoc said.
Espina said: "Ang probinsya po naming sa Pangasinan ay may mga kababayan na naka depende sa tourism. May mga bayan kami na coastal towns and cities and with this coordination for three provinces and City of Baguio ay kahit papano ay magkaronon ng activity but safe an gating mga kababayan at mga bisita."
Espina added the proposal will greatly help the province and relies on the tenants of a slow, sure and safe travel assuring safety of residents and visitors.