TOURISTS. Tourists drop by the famous lion’s head at Kennon Road for a photo as shown in this photo on Dec. 26, 2022, which flocking led to the travel from Baguio to Rosario, La Union 2.5 hours from the 40 minutes usual travel time. The city tourism office that the tourism numbers that are being experienced will allow the stakeholders to recover faster than the projected three to four years recovery period for the industry that was hardly hit by the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic. (PNA photo by Liza T. Agoot)

BAGUIO CITY – The chief of the city’s tourism office said the trend in tourist arrivals if sustained, will help tourism establishments recover faster than the expected three to four years recovery period.

"Definitely nakaka-recover pero yung full recovery hindi pa kasi yung losses ng two years but it is nice to know na maganda yung naire-record na number, that means it that can be sustained, mas mabilis siguro yung full recovery (they are definitely recovering but not yet full because of the losses in two years but it is nice to know that they are recording good numbers, that means it can be sustained and they will probably attain full recovery faster)," City Tourism Officer Aloysius Mapalo said in an interview on Tuesday.

Mapalo said it is possible that the tourism sector in the city which was badly hit by the coronavirus pandemic can recover in two years, with the city's tourist arrivals breaching pre-pandemic figures.

He added that based on records from hotels alone, the city has received 1.2 million tourists from the start of eased travel restrictions for the Holy Week to the holiday season in December.

Mapalo said that the city recorded 1.5 million tourist arrivals in 2019.

He added that many tourists come to the city and stay at their accommodation facilities which do not report the number of guests while some stay with relatives and friends and are not reflected in their records.

Residents of neighboring provinces also come to the city for a day tour arriving in the morning and leaving in the afternoon or evening, which is also not reflected in the statistics for tourist arrivals.

The heavy traffic situation in the city starting November last year is a proof of the influx of tourists in the city, he said.

The official added that the city’s tourist arrival on weekends ranges from 40,000 to 50,000 and they expect more with the return of the Baguio Flower Festival or Panagbenga.

He said that hotels in the city sent a feedback that they are experiencing a record high in terms of bookings.

Mapalo added that SM Baguio, which has also become a tourist destination, also reported high foot traffic figures.

Mapalo said that aside from the improved and developed tourist destinations in the city, more activities that were only limited to Metro Manila before can now be found in SM Baguio.

Meanwhile, the Baguio Correspondents and Broadcasters Club (BCBC), the umbrella organization of the media, said the annual Lucky Summer Visitor (LSV) activity of the group during Holy Week will resume this year after a two-year hiatus.

Joseph Cabanas, president-elect of the BCBC and a reporter of Radyo Pilipinas-Baguio, said the search that gives a red-carpet treatment to the chosen first-time Baguio visitors will be conducted this week.

“We are now preparing for it. It is the biggest activity of the media during the Holy Week in support of the tourism industry,” he said.

The LSV started in the 1970s when Baguio media members chose a lucky visitor/s provided with free accommodation, guided tours, and other perks. (PNA)