The local government disclosed that the road to recovery of the city’s tourism industry remains fragile because of the uncertainties caused by the emerging threat of the Omicron variant of the dreaded Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) although efforts are being done by the concerned stakeholders to pave the way for the gradual and safe revival of the heavily impacted sector.
While the tourist arrivals for December last year has virtually reached the pre-pandemic levels, Supervising City Tourism Operations Officer Engr. Aloysius C. Mapalo claimed that the local tourism industry is still reeling from the serious negative impact inflicted by the ongoing health crisis but concerned stakeholders are bullish on the future of the industry once the situation will get better in the coming months.
He disclosed that in 2019, there were more than 1.5 million tourists that visited the city where estimated gross receipts brought in by the visitors was at P3.84 billion.
However, in 2020, the city’s tourist arrivals plunged to more than 270,000 during the year that infused into the local economy an estimated P729 million in gross receipts to the tourism-related businesses among others.
In 2021, the city tourism officer reported that there were more than 328,000 tourists who visited the city and the gross receipts infused by the tourists to the city was around P886 million which is still way below the pre-pandemic level as the city tried to ease up on the prevailing community quarantine guidelines only in the last two months of the year following the significant drop in the number of COVID-19 cases.
According to him, the reduction on the number of tourists that will be allowed entry to the city daily to only 4,000 from the previous 5,000 will have an impact on the momentum gained by the tourism industry during the last 2 months of 2021 but there is a need to impose the restrictions because of the significant increase in cases coupled with the emerging threat of the Omicron variant.
Further, he also stipulated that another setback incurred by the concerned stakeholders is the fact that some of the expected visitors during the month who have pre-approved travels to the city are now cancelling their bookings in the different accommodation establishments that is why the projected tourist arrivals in the coming days are expected to decrease.
Mapalo admitted that for the whole month of January, most of the weekends have already reached the 3,000 to 4,000 tourists that are expected to visit the city and that there are still dates that are available for visitors to schedule their planned vacation provided that they register on the city’s established registration platform, visita-baguio-gov.ph, prior to their scheduled travel.
He reminded that one of the reasons why tourists with pre-approved travels to the city are now cancelling their planned visit is that the imposed negative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) or antigen test is already an added expense on their part that is why it would be best for them to cancel their scheduled travel and set the same to a later date when the existing restrictions shall have been eased by the concerned government agencies and the local government.