MANILA— Baguio City is set to open its doors again to tourists coming from the entire Luzon following earlier restrictions because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In an announcement posted through social media, the city's Public Information Office said Baguio's "Ridge and Reef program" would now be expanded to cater to travelers from all of Luzon starting October 22.
Only 200 visitors per day, however, will be allowed.
"The tourism program coverage expansion was recommended by the Baguio Tourism Council and the Hotel and Restaurant Association of Baguio and concurred with by city health officials subject to observance of health and safety protocols against Coronavirus disease," said the Baguio PIO.
The summer capital earlier only allowed tourists from the north to enter.
The Department of Tourism welcomed the decision, citing that the anticipated influx of tourists would spur swifter recovery of the tourism industry.
The new health and safety measures will be finalized together with the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) Technical Working Group (TWG), said Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat.
The documentary requirements will also be relaxed in the so-called Baguio Visitor Information and Travel Assistance or VIS.I.T.A program, which has received 2,000 registrations and some 200 travel requests since it was launched on September 22.
The requirement for visitors to book their itineraries through a DOT-accredited tour agency is now optional, but tourists would still be required to book in a DOT-accredited accommodation establishment.
“Now that we have an actual visitor count, the city has an important reference point and valuable feedback on how to move forward from this initial opening period,” Puyat added.
The DOT funded the VIS.I.T.A program for Baguio City through the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) to support the city’s reopening to tourists, starting with the Ridge and Reef travel corridor within the provinces of La Union, Pangasinan, Ilocos Sur, and Ilocos Norte.
Puyat added that the expansion of the greenlane to include nearby towns La Trinidad, Itogon, Sablan, Tuba, Tublay is also being worked on with the respective LGUs.