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Baguio Tourism Loses P1.46-B During Quarantine

Baguio Tourism Loses P1.46-B During Quarantine

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The tourism industry which should have been at its peak this time of the year has lost PHP1.46 billion, the Baguio Tourism Office reported on Thursday.

In his Baguio Tourism Resiliency and Recovery Plan report to Mayor Benjamin Magalong, tourism officer Aloysius Mapalo said based on the tourism arrivals of last year where 540,373 tourists came in from February to May, the tourism industry has lost PHP1.46 billion based on a PHP2,700 per person per day expenditure.

He told Philippine News Agency “that could be an estimated expenditure of tourists that did not come in the city this year. Consider that minimum since as mentioned, other tourists are not accounted for.”

But he said the city may have suffered more financially, as the figures are only estimates and based on data available from the above-ground economy. Many tourism-related jobs and establishments, including those transacting online, are actually underground and are also greatly affected.

“That means the actual economic impact is greater than what is estimated,” Mapalo said.

Mapalo said the figures were based on the number collated from 299 hotels during the period, which was the Panagbenga season that was expected to attract more tourists due to added festivity like the Ipitik festival where crowd drawing activities were supposed to be staged.

The 25th staging of the Panagbenga was supposed to be the biggest in years that even the Ipitik, which was last staged eight years ago came out with a week-long event at the Igorot Park that was expected to draw big crowds.

But all of Panagbenga’s crowd-drawing events were postponed and later canceled when the city was put under an enhanced community quarantine last March 17.

Mapalo said that tourists will not be coming to Baguio since the period from June to August, the number levels were down.

He said that local tourists may come in soon.

Citing Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Bernadette Puyat, Mapalo said that the city will not expect foreign tourist arrival any time soon.

The DOT, he said, has “already forecasted that foreign travel may still be difficult until next year. So, it is not expected that we’ll have foreign tourists soon.”

He said that Baguio will depend on local tourists but not this soon as the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic has not been controlled yet.

“At the soonest, we can rely at least on domestic tourists, but not perhaps until towards the end of the year. Our optimistic projection is by September or October,” he said.

With hotels and restaurants closed the past two months, some 4,000 employees have been affected, but then that does not include those who work for online booking, those who provide for tours, among others.

He said that the recovery plan that his office and the Baguio Tourism Council came out with where effective crisis management has been adopted.

The programs proposed include the launching of an online tour of parks, museums, galleries, the staging of seminars, and workshops for sustainable tourism where learning from the crisis will be given emphasis and help tourism practitioners to recover.

Mapalo said that activities from barangays to the local government unit must be implemented to help draw tourists back like a tribute to front-liners, thanksgiving ritual, and program, small group festivities, National Flag Day on May 28, Independence Day on June 12 and town hall sessions, among others.

Other programs include “Akyat Na” for tourists and students which will be staged on September during Baguio’s charter day and will go full blast on November or December; and programs that will be staged for 2021 like the HoHoHo Tourist Transport on January 2021, the “New Panagbenga” on February and the Baguio Summer Blast from March until end of May.

The plan sees a gradual opening of the tourism sector that will also consider the city’s gradual opening of all sectors from transportation, service sector, food, training and learning, events, culture and creatives, souvenir, amusement, tour, and accommodations.

The tourism plan said that “all the above proposals will be subject to national and local government directives and order.”

It will also follow the “strict guidelines per sector (which) shall be established that will be implementable for each phase and up to two years, providing standard practice and procedures for the ‘new normal.’” (PNA)

Photo Source: PNA/Pigeon Lobien

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