VISITOR registration starts to pick up, as Baguio City is set to welcome tourists by October.

Alec Mapalo, Baguio City Tourism officer, said there are now 47 travel requests, with 29 from Ilocos Region, followed by 13 from the National Capital Region (NCR) and five from other regions.

Mapalo added that only requests from Ilocos are being entertained, while those from other areas are informed that the city is not yet open for other areas in the country.

Mapalo said there are now 398 user account registrations since the launch of the Baguio Visita online registration platform September 22.

"Our tour operators are able to design tour programs that highlight our unique highland experience, primarily our natural assets. Natural mountain sceneries and the cold climate are attractive for staycation, rejuvenation and wellness tours. Local culture will also be featured through dining experiences, and culture arts and heritage galleries and museums," the tourism officer said.

Tour packages are being arranged by 15 accredited travel and tour agencies in Baguio City, while there are 82 accommodation establishments that were issued certificate authorizing operation (CAO) from the Department of Tourism in the Cordillera Administrative Region (DOT-CAR) and local government are ready for the gradual return of tourism.

Tourists with incomplete documents, including Covid-19 test results, will not be allowed entry.

Prior to visiting the Summer Capital, tourists are required to register and create account at Baguio Vista, a confirmed itinerary issued by a tour or travel agent, a recent Covid-19 certificate of negative result issued by an accredited testing laboratory, a RT-PCR or Rapid Antigen tests results issued not more than 48 hours prior travel. Test results are valid for a five-day itinerary.

"We are glad that there are interests for leisure travel from areas outside Region 1. Our travel corridor with Region 1 is simply an initial phase of our gradual re-opening. We intend to learn first from this phase and check how to manage efficiently and safely tourist arrivals, before we expand to allow tourists from other regions, which may be as soon as a few weeks from now," Mapalo said.

Travel and tour operator Jhen Palacsa Baltazar said preparation for the gradual return of tourism is being done while dividers were installed in their Tourist Jeepney for tours.

"We are preparing our equipment, vehicles, and our staff. We have also scheduled safety and health protocol orientation for tour guides and tour escorts," Baltazar said.

Baltazar's travel and tour firm offers "Our Baguio Safe Haven Tour Packages," which are specialized for Ilocos areas only.

Baltazar added the premium package rates are only applicable to 10 people on weekdays, but packages will be adjusted for those traveling with less individuals. Rates will differ depending on the preferred hotel accommodation.

"We have innovated by selling local Baguio and Cordillera products (homemade yogurt, jams, etag, walis, loca produce and fruits and more), weaved masks and apparel in order to get by. Up to now, we are still trying to hold our head above water. We are still fighting because I don't want my staff to lose their jobs, we are still losing money but remaining hopeful," Baltazar added.