June 10, 2021 – After months in the doldrums, Baguio City’s tourism industry is seen to perk up with the lifting of the prohibition for tourists from the National Capital Region Plus.

Mayor Benjamin Magalong confirmed that tourist arrivals started to pick up in the first week of June with hotels and restaurants getting more bookings and sales.

“We hope to be able to maintain and rejuvenate our tourism industry without compromising the health and safety of our people,” the mayor said.

City Tourism Operations Officer Aloysius Mapalo said, “The first week of June until the weekend saw a surge in tourist arrivals after it was announced that Baguio can already accommodate leisure travelers from NCR+ starting June 1.”

“Data show that 1,406 tourists arrived from May 31 to June 6.  It’s more than double the previous week at only 535 arrivals,” he added.

The city maintains its strict entry protocols for tourists that require negative test result for Coronavirus disease and registration with the portal.

Subsidized antigen tests are provided for tourists through the P1.8 million fund provided by the Tourism Promotions Board to ensure safety from COVID-19.

Magalong admits that 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.

Tourist arrival records from the tourism office showed that only 515 tourists arrived in the city last April and 2,169 last May.

March record was highest with 24,295 owing to eased up travel protocols that time.  February had 8,915 while January had 9,819 and December, 2020, 12,066 tourists.

The mayor said that last year alone, the industry suffered more than P3.5 billion losses in potential income with the drop in tourist arrivals seven times lower than that of 2019 or from 1.7 million in 2019 to just 232,000 in 2020.

From April to June last year, the industry lost more than P1.6 billion in potential income while tourism workers lost more than P550 million in unrealized wages.

He said three accommodation facilities have already permanently closed while others in dire straits remain hopeful their businesses will recover as the city continues its efforts to revive the industry. – Aileen P. Refuerzo