Operation of Ilocos-bound buses studied

March 25 – The city is currently studying the possible resumption of operation of public utility buses bound for the different provinces and cities in the Ilocos Region to help sustain the influx of visitors to the country’s Summer Capital towards the gradual, safe and sure revival of the local economy.

Supervising City Tourism Operations Officer Engr. Aloysius C. Mapalo reported that the decision of the city not to accept tourists from the National Capital Region (NCR) bubble plus caused a drastic decline in the number of visitors registering in the city’s tourist online registration platform, thus, city officials and concerned tourism industry stakeholders recommended the possible resumption of inter-regional bus operations to and from the Ilocos Region to entice people from there to visit the city.

He claimed the proposal is being carefully studied to ensure that once the inter-regional bus operations to and from the Ilocos Region is allowed, similar health and safety protocols will be imposed to both the passengers and the buses that will be permitted to travel to help contain the possible spread of the Corona Virus Disease (COVID) 2019 in the city.

The city tourism officer stipulated that the vacuum left by the decision not to accept tourists from the NCR bubble plus for the meantime could be filled up by the tourists from the Ilocos Region and other nearby areas, thus, the need to allow the resumption of inter-provincial and inter-regional bus operations so that prospective tourists will have the option on the mode of transportation to use when visiting the city.

According to him, tourists from the NCR bubble plus account for approximately 50-70 percent of the daily tourist arrivals in the city and daily tourist arrivals significantly declined when the decision not to accept tourists therefrom was announced by city officials.

Last year, the tourist department, in coordination with Baguio City and the various local governments in the Ilocos Region, launched the Ridge to Reef tourism bubble to help revive the economy in these places after the heavy negative impact inflicted on the economy by the implementation of the various levels of community quarantine to contain the rapid spread of the deadly virus in Northern Luzon.

However, from October 1-22, 2021, there were only 15 visitors from the Ilocos Region to the city that prompted the Baguio City government to expand the coverage of the bubble to the different parts of Luzon, including NCR, resulting to the significant increase in daily tourist arrivals in the city since then.

Mapalo expressed confidence that ongoing talks with the bus companies and the local governments will be successful so that the desired inter-regional and inter-provincial bus operations will resume soonest to help in enticing people to start moving around with strict adherence to basic health and safety protocols so that they will not contract and transmit the virus not only in their places of destination but also in the areas where they come. –  Dexter A. See