DOT eyes to expand Baguio’s travel bubble plan across PH

September 2, 2020, 9:30 pm

<p>Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat (File photo)</p>

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat (File photo)

BAGUIO CITY – The Department of Tourism (DOT) threw its full support behind the Ridge to Reef Corridor Plan, one of the key strategies being explored to ensure Baguio City's gradual and safe reopening to tourists from nearby provinces within the year.

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat expressed that the plan, which seeks to enable seamless travel for tourism in BLUPISIN—or between Baguio City and the provinces of La Union, Pangasinan, Ilocos Sur, and Ilocos Norte, is worth emulating in other parts of the country in the DOT's process of reopening domestic tourism.

"This corridor plan of the BLUPISIN is truly admirable, not only because of the variety of tourism products involved but because of how advanced inter-provincial protocols are in terms of border control, as well as in assuring the health and safety of tourists and communities. It is a clear manifestation of the strong support of the local and provincial leaders to jumpstart tourism, which thousands of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the region rely on. This can serve as a pilot project, and when successful, can be replicated where applicable," Puyat said in a statement on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Puyat witnessed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong and governors from the Ilocos region, including Governors Amado Espino III (Pangasinan), Matthew Manotoc (Ilocos Norte), and Ryan Singson (Ilocos Sur). A Technical Working Group (TWG) will establish the Corridor Plan and conduct research and other strategies to facilitate tourism and economic recovery in BLUPISIN.

In support to this convergence and the recovery of Baguio's tourism industry, the tourism chief also announced that the DOT, through the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB), will dedicate funds to support programs such as the Baguio V.I.S.I.T.A. (Visitor Information and Travel Assistance), a multi-platform digital monitoring application; the set-up of the website and e-commerce platform; and the revival of the city's weaving and fashion industry.

The tourism chief, who served as the Keynote Speaker at the 111th Baguio Day celebration on Tuesday, underscored the importance of sustainability of reopening tourism in the City of Pines and other parts of the country.

"With sustainable tourism as our core advocacy, we have and will continue to ensure that policies are in place for the protection of the environment and the local community," Puyat said. "As Baguio readies to open its doors, we are being given the opportunity now to refocus on sustainable and responsible tourism, taking into account the quality rather than the number of tourists entering this iconic and beloved destination.”

Puyat also cited the advanced and responsible crisis management system of Baguio City that resulted in the highest testing per total population for any local government unit (LGU) in the country.

She lauded the impressive contact tracing technique employed in the city and the implementation of contactless payment and strict health and safety protocols.

"Given these protocols in place, Baguio can anticipate reopening cautiously first to visitors from Region 1. Tourists will be regulated and monitored through the Baguio V.I.S.I.T.A.. Everyone is encouraged to pre-register and pre-book accommodations. Upon entry in Baguio, visitors are expected to go thru mandatory triage and the required testing protocols of either RT-PCR or antigen, once the guidelines are approved. The tour operator or hotel management shall closely monitor the movement of the tourist, and the city will limit the capacity of visitors depending on risk levels," Puyat explained. (DOT PR)