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Baguio opens border to tourists except NCR plus bubble, MECQ areas

21 April 2021 – The Summer Capital has re-opened its borders for tourists but limited to those coming areas under General Community Quarantine (GCQ) and Modified GCQ to ensure safe recovery of the tourism and hospitality industry.

The city government through Executive Order No. 50-A, series of 2021, issued by mayor Benjamin Magalong allowed the entry of tourists from GCQ and MGCQ areas effective April 16, 2021 with approved QR-coded Tourist Pass (QTP) from the online registration platform https://visita.baguio.gov.ph.

However, tourists from high-risk areas particularly those under Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ) and Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, Rizal — also known as the "NCR plus" are not yet allowed to enter Baguio on leisure purposes.

Engr. Aloysius Mapalo, Supervising Administrative Officer of the City Tourism reminded those planning to visit Baguio on the health protocols being implemented by the government to control the spread of the Coronavirus disease-2019.

Foremost, Mapalo said pre-registration at the online platform VISITA to generate a QTP is required with a valid Identification Card and a negative COVID-19 test result conducted at least 72 hours prior to entry to Baguio or can be conducted onsite at the Central Triage of the city.

The city government offers P500 antigen test at the Baguio Convention Center serving as Central triage for non-residents of Baguio entering the city.

Mapalo also explained that all tourists are mandated to under triage check-up to ensure that they do not possess symptoms of COVID-19 aside from the negative test result.

“If found symptomatic and having positive test result at the triage, the tourist will be isolated depending on the recommendation of our triage doctors or will be sent back home,” Mapalo explained.

A maximum limit of 3,000 per day was set by the city government but Mapalo said data from the VISITA platform shows Baguio is not even reaching 1,000 registration daily which may be attributed to the required negative test result.

Mapalo explained that those who pre-registered at the VISITA do not necessarily arrive in Baguio.

“Tourist arrival peaked sometime in March particularly that weekend when we announced that negative test result is no longer required where we had over 6,000 registrations but only half arrived. This was also the time that we were overwhelmed at the triage dahil sabay-sabay dumating at nakapila lahat sa Triage,” Mapalo said.

When negative test result was required again, tourist registration dwindled to less than 5,000 but only 20 percent of the registrants pushed through with their travel to Baguio.

“Tourist arrival decreased steadily after that specially during the implementation of the travel restriction from the NCR Plus Bubble since March 22,” Mapalo said.

While the Lenten Season is the peak tourism arrival in Baguio with over 100,000 visitors, Mapalo said the years 2020 and 2021 recorded zero tourist during the observance of the Holy Week period.

With the reopening of borders to tourists from GCQ and MGCQ areas, Baguio had 20 tourists arrived on April 17 – Saturday and another 20 on April 18 – Sunday.

Mapalo said for next week, his office already has noted a pre-registration of 700 tourists.

“Our total arrivals since October 2020 when we allowed tourists up to March 2021 is 61,574. We peaked last March at 24,000,” Mapalo said. – Jessa P. Samidan