Baguio's tourism sector suffers P375-million revenue loss due to COVID-19: official

Micaella Ilao, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 21 2020 04:16 PM | Updated as of Apr 21 2020 09:07 PM

Burnham Park during the Baguio City Lockdown on April 15, 2020. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA (UPDATE) — Famed tourist destination Baguio City has recorded nearly P400 million in revenue losses, according to an official, citing the coronavirus pandemic that has forced people to isolate themselves and do away with travels out of fear of catching COVID-19. 

Baguio City tourism official Alec Mapalo said that as of April, the city has already suffered at least P375 million in losses as the number of tourists plunged amid lockdowns in Luzon and other parts of the country.

"Being a city heavily relying in tourism at tourism sector, napakalaki talaga ng impact [given] the restrictions in travel and mobility," Mapalo told ABS-CBN News. 

Baguio City usually welcomes 500,000 tourists during its peak season from February to May, according to Mapalo. 

"While we can already see the impact in the economy, the problema is how long will it be? Baka it may take a long while... We are facing a crisis where we do not know how will it end," the official said. 

Andrew Pinero, spokesperson of the Hotel and Restaurant Association of Baguio, said that tourism activity in the city may not go back to how it was even after the lockdown. 

The lockdown in Luzon is set to end on April 30. 

"Kung mali-lift 'yung ECQ (enhanced community quarantine) come the end of April, we understand na di pa rin bubuksan 'yung ating mga borders to people coming up to the city," he said. 

(If the ECQ is lifted come the end of April, we understand that our borders may still not be opened to people coming up to the city.)

Luzon, home to nearly half of the Philippines' 100 million population, was placed under enhanced community quarantine or lockdown starting March 17 as the government moved to contain the spread of COVID-19.

The lockdown, which was supposed to end on April 12, was extended until April 30 as the government said it needed more time to prepare for a "new normal."

With the future of tourism in Baguio looking bleak, Pinero said their group is now looking for new ways to earn without relying on the usual business model.

"We're looking at the possibility of looking at other avenues of deriving revenue. Hindi lang 'yung occupancy ng rooms. 'Yung mga nakikita namin 'yung restaurants namin can probably help," he said. 

(Not just the occupancy of rooms. We see that our restaurants can probably help.)

Dubbed the "City of Pines," Baguio City is a preferred destination of Luzon residents during the dry season due to its cool weather and proximity to congested cities of Metro Manila.