THIS year’s Panagbenga Festival has a crowd of just about a quarter or even one-eighth of the number of what the festival boasted of two years ago.
Still, it’s a step forward,
Baguio’s tourism numbers have picked up as the Panagbenga festival came back into full swing this weekend, with City Tourism Officer Alec Mapalo saying that tourists have been estimated to have doubled over the past peaks earlier in the year.
According to Mapalo, some 45,000 tourists were logged from March 18 to 19 over the course of two days, more than double the 21,000 tourists earlier in March.
Mapalo said travel requests went up to 83,034 in week March 7-13 when the first set of weekend events was held and to 96,503 in week March 14-20 when more highlights were staged, while actual arrivals were 34,418 and 45,521 respectively. The week before this period, the city had 66,746 travel requests and 28,453 arrivals.
He said these figures are expected to further increase this weekend based on the current number of requests being processed in the registration platform visita.baguio.gov.ph. Festival activities will close this weekend.
However, the actual number is still subject to change as the tourism office is still verifying data with hotels and the city’s central triage facility.
“We had major activities last weekend, and we saw how many visitors we received since Friday. Actually, we can estimate it up to 45,000 for the last weekend, Friday up to Sunday, and I think we can top that even for this coming weekend. Last weekend was actually our record high since the pandemic, exceeding the long weekend of February 25,” Mapalo said.
Mapalo said that the figures are likely to increase even further based on data from Baguio’s online tourist registration portal. Visitors are required to register here in order to enter the city.
He cited the high tourist numbers as evidence of the great demand for the Panagbenga festivities, which are for now notably subdued after being canceled in the previous two years of pandemic.
“This also signals that we are moving towards the vibrancy of the new normal and that we would like to see a better normal way of doing things. We cannot discount the continuing threat of the virus so we remain very cautious,” he said.
In addition to normal safety protocols, Mapalo said that the Baguio Flower Festival Foundation Inc. (BFFFI), which handles the bulk of the preparation and implementation of the Panagbenga festivities, have made sure to keep additional safety protocols in place even as the activities begin drawing large crowds.
The festival has entered its final week with the opening of the Session Road in Bloom to run from March 21-27. A fluvial parade will be held on March 26, from 9:00 -11:00 a.m. at the Burnham Park Lake.