It’s been almost six months since the majority of the country went on lockdown. With the economy struggling to keep up with the never-ending rise of COVID-19 cases, Baguio, the Summer Capital of the Philippines, is about to open its roads to tourists starting September. Well, at least, that’s the plan. According to City Tourism Officer, Alec Mapalo, through his Facebook post, the government of Baguio “plans to gradually re-open tourism” with strict guidelines in this new normal. And, if you are planning to take a trip to the mountains, he also shared the requirements and the process of getting into the city of Pines.
What Do Tourists Need to Know When Visiting Baguio During the Pandemic?
As a tourist, you need to do a few things before traveling to Baguio. See the steps below:
- Pre-register online through Baguio VIS.I.T.A(Visitor Information & Travel Assistance) system;
- Pre-book accommodation through (preferably) accredited tour operators and declare itinerary;
- Upon entry, undergo mandatory triage and PCR testing, which will be paid by you, the tourist;
- Wait for the results in the hotel until results come out (9 hours, at most);
Assuming you passed the medical test, then you can roam around the city; however, tourists’ movement shall be closely monitored by the tour operator and/or hotel management. But as a resident in Baguio, there are a few questions that are still unanswered. At the moment, people who are planning to go to the public market and malls require special passes. These colored passes restrict the influx of people by letting them enter on specific days. Are you, as a tourist, required to get a pass? Probably not. We’re still several weeks away from September, so things may change accordingly. As for popular tourist attractions, expect not everything to be open. If you’re wondering how life works in Baguio, amidst the pandemic, you can read our 3-week experience here.
Just in case you need more information regarding tour operators, the city requires the following for them:
- DOT-issued Certificate of Authority to Operate (CAO) can accommodate guests;
- Require guests to register through Baguio VIS.I.T.A. prior to travel ;
- Observance of health and safety protocols.
Given this is a new initiative, Baguio VIS.I.T.A. is scheduled to go online on Goole Play and App Store anytime this August. Obviously, illegal entry of tourists will be dealt with accordingly. There is a limited number of allowed tourists per day, so expect queues and delays when registering.
For any questions and suggestions to improve the city’s effort to re-open tourism, feel free to send them at firstname.lastname@example.org
As of August 4, 2020, Baguio has recorded a total of 144 COVID-19 cases; 79 are confirmed active, 3 deaths, and 62 recoveries. Though the number seems minuscule on the surface, the City Mayor is known as contact tracing czar for a reason. About 3866 are on a 14-day quarantine, with 18,991 who already completed the period.