THE Baguio tourist population has finally returned to pre-pandemic figures as tourist arrivals surged last weekend, according to City Tourism Officer Alec Mapalo.
“From our data, we can safely say that we have reached our pre-pandemic numbers in terms of tourist arrivals at this point. Of course, we cannot say the same about the period earlier this year, especially during the months of January and February because we still had surges in (COVID-19) cases at that time.”
According to Mapalo, the recovery and growth of the Baguio tourist population started in March when the city brought back the annual Panagbenga. During the period, Baguio saw some 100,000 registered tourist arrivals a month.
Tourist arrivals remained consistent even during the rainy period of June to August, sustaining the March numbers. However, according to Mapalo, tourist traffic began to pick up after the rainy season.
“After the rainy season, we did not anymore have the non-peak season. We did not have lean seasons anymore,” Mapalo said.
Tourism started climbing in October and peaked in November, even with the cancellations brought about by Typhoon Paeng. In November, the city saw some 150,000 registered tourists to date, with the previous weekend alone seeing some 60,000 tourist arrivals.
However, Mapalo added that the numbers are only for visitors registered under the Visitor Information and Tourist Assistance (VISITA) system.
“50 to 60 percent of visitors are not registered and do not stay in the hotels, who are the ones that take registrations, so the numbers are even higher,” Mapalo said, with rough estimates showing nearly double of the registered numbers.
Mapalo also added that with the number of tourists arriving in the city, traffic has greatly increased around tourists spots in the city.