Visitors pack Baguio as tourism peaks early
BAGUIO CITY — Judging from the big crowd of mostly tourists that packed streets in downtown Baguio last weekend, the tourist season here has started to peak, not in February when the city stages its flower festival.
On Saturday night at the start of the annual Christmas celebration here, tourists mingled with thousands of students who held their lantern parade on busy Session Road.
That parade caused massive traffic jams on streets outside the central business district. Traffic was already bad on Friday when tourists came in droves for the three-day weekend.
Tourist arrivals peaked during the Christmas season, the city tourism office said, citing records, which showed that close to 200,000 foreign and local visitors came in December last year.
In 2015, there were 122,709 tourists in December, 86,965 in November, 118,501 in May, 122,447 in April, 97,190 in March, and 106,373 in February.
“The gap widened in 2016 with 172,303 tourists in December, 119,060 in November, 129,121 in April, 111,678 in March, and 104,568 in February,” the city information office said.
Last year, Baguio had 198,599 tourists in December, much higher than the 129,572 visitors who arrived for the Panagbenga (Baguio Flower Festival) in February.
The Saturday evening parade staged by students of Saint Louis University here was the climax of a busy weekend that began with the traditional children’s mardi gras. —Vincent Cabreza
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