BAGUIO CITY: After starting slowly, the city’s tourism bubble program has started to pick up even as the city government stuck with agreed entry requirements that have been viewed by some as too rigid.

Mayor Benjamin Magalong - Baguio tourism bubble picks up
Mayor Benjamin Magalong. Public Information Office Photo

Mayor Benjamin Magalong said the entry protocols for the Ridge and Reef tourism corridor program are reasonable, considering that it aims to strike a balance between reviving the economy and ensuring health and safety in view of the coronavirus disease (2019 Covid-19) crisis.

The program, according to the mayor, will be pursued despite spikes in Covid-19 cases in the city because the situation remains manageable.

“We should now move on from risk aversion to risk management. We should now be ready to take risks while ensuring that systems are ready to address any eventuality,” he said.

“Baguio City is capable of managing the situation. Our cases may be high, but we also have high testing capability and contact-tracing efficiency ratio. What is scary is if the contact-tracing comprises only 25 to 30 percent of the daily cases and, as it is, we have as much as 80 to 90 percent,” Magalong added.

According to the mayor, the marathon expanded/targeted testing done last Sept. 17 to 19, 2020 showed low positivity rate.

Of the 2,100 tested from the different sectors exposed to the Covid-19 risk, only 19 were found to be infected for a positivity rate of .9 percent.

City Tourism Operations Officer Aloysius Mapalo said a total of 179 travel requests had been received and 1,701 individual account registrations had been made under the Visitors’ Information and Travel Assistance (Visita) registration platform and travel guide as of October 8.

Fifty requests came from tourists in Region I, 54 from the National Capital Region or Metro Manila, one from Region 2, 41 from Region 3, 20 from Region 4A, four from Region 5, two from Region 7, one from Region 12, five from Cordillera Administrative Region and one from the United States.

Mapalo said requests from regions other than Region 1 will be accommodated once these regions had been allowed in the bubble as only Region 1 is being allowed as of now.

Three travel requests from Region 1 have so far been approved, two of whom arrived last October 2 and one last October 11.

A total of 47 requests remain pending with travel dates spanning October to December.

“Pending travel requests may be disapproved if requirements are not completed prior to the intended date of travel,” Mapalo said.

Most of the Region 1 travel requests came from Pangasinan with 31; followed by La Union, 14; and Ilocos Sur and Ilocos Norte with three apiece.

Mapalo said requests from NCR, Region 3 and Region 4A have increased.

Under the Ridge and Reef travel corridor, only tourists from Region 1 will be allowed to visit Baguio City through the guided tour concept as the first phase of the program.

Phase two will include Regions 2 and 3 and phase three, all other regions.

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