Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat served as the guest of honor and keynote speaker for the launching program of the “Ridge and Reef Baguio – Region 1 Travel Corridor." She also led the ribbon cutting of the “Ridge and Reef” Mini Travel and Trade Fair and the activation of the Baguio City’s VISITA (Visitor Information and Travel Application) System.
Mayor Benjamin Magalong and Congressman Mark Go led Baguio City officials and other key tourism stakeholders.
Joining the event were Ilocos Norte Governor Matthew Joseph Marcos Manotoc, La Union Gov. Francisco Emmanuel Ortega III, Pangasinan Gov. Amado Espino III, representative of Ilocos Sur Gov. Ryan Luis Singson, and DOT Region I Director Joseph Francisco Ortega.
Puyat outlined that the country’s tourism is at high note in 2019 setting a record of more than 8 million international tourists and close to 110 million domestic trips until COVID – 19 set in. This brought heavy toll to all stakeholders including local communities and people whose livelihood is dependent on the tourism industry.
The Secretary bared that they are working on the resumption of international travels but priorities are set in reviving the local tourism industries. The DOT, she said, is closely and continuously coordinating with local government units, tourism stakeholders and communities for such purpose.
“While the resumption of international travels is in the DOT plans, our immediate task is to jumpstart the local tourism industries and allow it to become a major driver of socio - economic growth once more,” Puyat said adding that public health and safety will continuously be safeguarded,
Tourism bubble or travel corridor allows citizens of certain province or region to travel safely within designated zones, and is the most viable method in re – opening tourism in this time of COVID pandemic, she said.
Puyat commended those involved in the Ridge and Reef Travel Corridor wherein tourists from Region 1 will be allowed entry in Baguio City and vice versa following inter-LGU protocols.
The city will start receiving visitors on October 1 through the VISITA online system that can be accessed on visita.baguio.gov.ph. The same system will also be set up in partner LGUs in Region 1 through the assistance of the Tourism Promotion Board, a DOT attached agency.
Magalong assured that reviving the city’s tourism will be done slowly, surely and safely – mainly focused on balancing the opening of the economy and ensuring the health and safety of the tourists and local folks.
“The goal is crystal clear: to make sure that no one – tourists and residents alike – gets into harm’s way. Ito ang hamon sa ating kakayahan – ang maging ligtas ang sinuman sa panahon ng pagbubukas ng Baguio sa mga darating na bisita”, Magalong stressed. (JDP/CCD-PIA CAR)
By Carlito C. Dar