BAGUIO CITY – Tourism industry stakeholders in the city disclosed that lean tourism months have drastically decreased following the opening of the 88-kilometer Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEX) that contributed in the reduction of travel time from Metro Manila to Baguio City from six to only three and a half hours.
Anthony de Leon, general manager of the Baguio Country Club (BCC) and president of the private-led Hotel and Restaurant Association of Baguio (HRAB), said over the past three to four years when TPLEX was opened to traffic, tourism arrivals in the city significantly grew even during the supposed lean months from June to the end of October and that the bad month for tourism industry stakeholders was only in August.
However, de Leon explained that for this year, August and September are considered to be their bad months because of the continuous monsoon rains last month and the onslaught of Tropical Cyclone Ompong last week that resulted to numerous cancellations of reservations from the different hotels in the city last weekend.
“The city’s tourism industry remains robust because of its cool weather that prevails year round. The expected opening of the Rosario exit of TPLEX that will further reduce the travel time from the lowlands to the city will continue to entice people to frequent the Summer Capital even during weekends that will sustain the growth of the local tourism industry,” de Leon stressed.
From the previous 15 to 20 percent occupancy of hotels during June to October, the HRAB official admitted their occupancy rate even reached 100 percent during the so-called lean months which is an indication of the vibrance of the local tourism industry that is why there are still a number of companies that are interested to put up hotels in available areas in the city.
Ramon Cabrera, general manager of the Camp John Hay Manor, claimed their occupancy during the lean months have increased by an average of 15 percent annually because of the reduced travel time from the lowlands to the city, thus, people have been enticed to spend a well-deserved break in the city for them to escape from the extreme heat in the lowlands.
BCC and the CJH Manor are the only hotels in the city that were given the recognition as Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Green Hotels in the city over the past several years.
Cabrera admitted Baguio City became accessible to foreign and domestic tourists with the opening of a huge length of TPLEX over the past several years and that the upcoming opening of the Roasario exit of the highway will definitely be an added boost to the vibrance of the local tourism industry.
He underscored that the influx of foreign and domestic tourists to the city, especially during weekends, is already a clear indication that the city remains a preferred tourist destination even during the typhoon season.
The two tourism industry experts believe that the local tourism industry will continue to get its share from foreign and local tourist arrivals because of its natural pull, a cool weather condition being longed for by people in the lowlands. By HENT