BAGUIO’s tourist numbers remain steady but still below the self-imposed tourism limits of the city, according to Baguio Mayor Benjamin Magalong.
The number of tourists arriving in the city has been increasing since the reopening of leisure travel from the National Capital Region (NCR) plus area, according to Magalong.
However, the current daily count of tourists of the city, ranging from 1,500 to 1,800 on weekdays, while higher than previous months, remains below the allowed 3,000 tourists per day limitation imposed on the city as part of its bid to safely reopen the tourism industry.
At the same time, the low numbers, compared to pre-pandemic times, means that the city cannot yet rely on the tourism industry as a major source of income to fuel the city’s recovery, Magalong said.
Despite the major uptick of tourism when the restrictions on the NCR+ area’s leisure travelers were eased, with the first two weeks of June alone seeing 4,378 tourists, the city has yet to see enough travelers to reconsider increasing its daily tourist limits.
The city is also still in the process of ensuring that it is able to handle growing tourist travel.
With the ongoing pandemic and the need for stricter protocols, only 374 or a third of the city’s accommodation establishments including inns, hotels and transient houses have been accredited and approved by the Department of Tourism (DOT) as fit for operation.
Tourist arrival statistics in the city has considerably improved last June but actual numbers remained below par.
Records of the City Tourism Office showed a total arrival of 12,030 visitors for June which according to City Tourism Operations Officer Aloysius Mapalo is a “big jump” from the previous months of April with a measly 515 and May with 2,189.
Magalong affirmed that the daily tourist data remained below the city’s target of 3,000 tourists daily even during weekends.
“We were looking at reducing our target number of visitors as a contingency measure against the possible surge in cases due to increased mobility and the threat of the Delta variant but our actual numbers are still low and are still manageable so we will just continue to monitor but we will be more strict in our border protocols,” the mayor said.
Data from the Baguio VIS.I.T.A. (Visitor Information and Travel Assistant), the city’s online registration system for Baguio tourists and travelers showed a big disparity between the number of travel requests and actual arrivals.
For June, the city received more than 40,000 requests but the actual arrival was only 12,030.
“But this is a big jump from the previous month. Obviously, Manila tourists brought in the number for June,” Mapalo observed.
The city began accepting tourists from the National Capital Region Plus when prohibitions were lifted starting June 1.
It hopes to further perk up the industry with the waiving of the test requirement for fully vaccinated individuals starting July 5.
Magalong however assured that precautionary measures will continue to be implemented to avoid transmissions.
The city’s economy heavily relies on tourism that is why incessant efforts are exerted to gradually and safely open the industry but with strict adherence to the implementation of minimum health protocols. – with reports from Aileen P. Refuerzo