Baguio expects 4,000 tourists during holidays
BAGUIO CITY — The number of visitors in this city could reach 4,000 during the holidays but officials here have assured the public that the revival of local tourism is a “reasonably safe transition” until the country gets the coronavirus vaccines. Mayor Benjamin Magalong on Wednesday said tourists who were allowed entry here had passed the screening and were not infected with COVID-19.
“We continue to invite visitors to come. Two weeks ago, we had 850 visitors a day during a long weekend,” Magalong said during his year-end briefing.
He said the city government would hire more nurses next year to man triage and screening facilities. More isolation facilities and beds dedicated to COVID-19 patients are also being put up in the city, he said.
As of Thursday, the city had 343 active cases. It had registered 3,702 infections since March.
“We are no longer thinking about the first, second, and third waves [of infections]. What is going to happen in the next several months are multiple surges, and that’s precisely what is happening [during the holidays]. So we need to be very proactive,” said Magalong.
The Luzon lockdown has cost the local tourism industry up to P1.6 billion in lost revenues, which was aggravated by the prolonged shutdown of tourism-oriented businesses until September and October. The shutdown also affected employment, with estimated losses valued at P555 million.
According to Magalong, the city government managed the pandemic through the help of donors who sent 170,000 test kits worth P500 million, which Baguio shared with Cordillera provinces.
The donors contributed P100 million worth of personal protective equipment used by front-liners and other vulnerable sectors for the past nine months. The city recorded P180 million in foregone earnings this year and was expecting bigger losses in 2021. This would be reflected by the significant drop in the 2021 budget from this year’s P2.2 billion. —VINCENT CABREZA INQ
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