Benguet okays stopover

TOURISTS from Ilocos going to Baguio City with negative coronavirus disease (Covid-19) test result will now be allowed to stop along Benguet roads.

Benguet Governor Melchor Diclas clarified, following a meeting with Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat on Monday, September 21, that tourists going to the city with negative Covid-19 real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test result and passing through entry points of Benguet will be allowed to have stop-overs and go to comfort rooms.

He said the municipality of Tuba, one of entry points going to the Summer Capital, is preparing for protocols for the tourists from Ilocos who will be passing along the town.

Diclas previously welcomed the decision of Baguio to open its doors to tourism, but reiterated that tourist destinations in the province remain closed.

The governor earlier explained that tourists from Ilocos region going to Baguio City will be allowed entry provided they will not stop along the road particularly in Benguet towns.

On September 22, the city launched the tourism bubble between areas in the north and the city dubbed as "The Ridge and Reef" travel corridor, covering provinces of Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union and Pangasinan.

Last week, the Baguio City Tourism Office (BCTO) said do-it-yourself tours and day tours (those not staying overnight) are not allowed.

BCTO also discussed the summary of procedure for the entry of tourists, adding they are introducing system requiring travelers to pre-register where tourists need to provide identification, have a health declaration form and upload the latest Covid-19 test that shows a negative result.

In the initial phase, visitors must undergo pre-booking with hotels, declared itinerary by Department of Tourism accredited tour operators and when they arrive in the city, must undergo triage and have an option of Covid-19 testing upon arrival-a validation for health declaration made by the tourists.

For accommodations, hotels have standard operating procedures and system to find out whether tourists when through triage and have the required travel documents. The movement of tourist will also be monitored by tour guides and tour operators in the city.

The gradual opening of tourism is set in three phases: Phase 1 as Intra-Corridor Travel aimed to be completed in two months; Phase 2 for the expanded travel corridor projected months after the launch; and Phase 3 as the sub-national inter-travel projected after three months of the launch.

Specific areas covered San Juan, Bauang and San Gabriel in La Union; Manaoag, Alaminos City and Bolinao in Pangasinan; Vigan, Bantay and Caoayan in Ilocos Sur; and Badoc, Currimao, Paoay, Batac, Laoag, Pasuiquin, Burgos, Bangui, Pagudpod, Adams, Sarrat and Vintar for Ilocos Norte.


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