As border restrictions ease, holiday crowds swarm Baguio | Inquirer News

As border restrictions ease, holiday crowds swarm Baguio

/ 05:19 AM December 31, 2022

As border restrictions ease,holiday crowds swarm Baguio

HOLIDAY CHILLS Rizal Day in Baguio City brings more tourists and local families out for a walk around the packed Burnham Park on Friday. The summer capital has experienced a massive influx of guests during the Christmas holiday. —NEIL CLARK ONGCHANGCO

BAGUIO CITY—Thousands of tourists have arrived in this city over the holidays, with about 100,000 staying in hotels during the Christmas week alone, suggesting that the 2022 tally may match or surpass the 1.57 million tourists who visited the summer capital before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, a local official said on Friday.

The local government no longer tracked guests who enter the city since it lifted all public health restrictions at its borders in the middle of this year, and City Hall would need to collect visitor data from hotels and other accommodation facilities when the year ends to get an accurate picture of how many tourists entered the summer capital during this period, said city tourism operations supervisor Aloysius Mapalo on the sidelines of this year’s Rizal Day program here.


But feedback from other business sectors reflected a high tourist influx, he said, citing shopping mall giant SM, which has reported “record-breaking” foot traffic at its Baguio mall this year.


He said big restaurant chains and other brand name stores also keep track of their provincial outlets that operate within malls outside Metro Manila, said Mapalo.

Before the start of the Yuletide season, the city tourism office estimated that as many as 1.2 million foreign and domestic guests had visited Baguio from January to the months of April and May, which are the city’s seasonal peak tourist months, Mapalo said.

But tourists continued to visit the city every weekend even during the monsoon season, which he pegged at 150,000 visits monthly.

Ease of travel

The tally only covered accredited housing facilities, and did not include guests staying with relatives, those who had overnight-sharing arrangements at condominiums or unregistered transient houses, or those who traveled back to their hometowns by the day’s end.

Since the opening of the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway, driving from Manila to Baguio could take less than four hours, while Pangasinan and La Union residents often take the two-hour drive to the city to shop or hold picnics at the local parks.

Flag carrier Philippine Airlines has also been flying guests from Cebu and the Visayas through a regular Baguio-Cebu route that it opened on Dec. 16.


Based on 2019 data, foreign guests and balikbayan (returning overseas Filipinos) spent P1.8 billion in the Cordillera, but by sheer number alone, domestic tourists spent a total of P8.7 billion in the region, according to the Cordillera office of the Philippine Statistics Authority.

The average foreign tourist spent P7,392 in 2019, while the expenditure of a local tourist before the pandemic struck was P3,827.

Vehicle traffic in Baguio during the Christmas holiday was often at a standstill in certain hours of the day along roads leading to popular tourist spots.


Traffic, however, was more manageable on Friday due to an “exodus” of residents and workers who traveled to their home provinces for the New Year’s celebration, police said.

The city’s traffic and transportation management committee has yet to release the number of vehicles that drove up to the summer capital for the holidays.

On Friday, throngs of visitors lingered around Burnham Park to watch cadets of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) place a wreath at Baguio’s Rizal monument alongside Baguio officials. The hero’s monument stands at Rizal Park, which lies across Burnham’s Rose Garden.

In separate speeches, Baguio Rep. Marquez Go and Baguio Mayor Benjamin Magalong described Jose Rizal’s execution as the catalyst that fueled the 1896 Philippine Revolution against the 400-year Spanish colonial rule.

“This is why we commemorate his death instead of his birth. We honor his unmatchable sacrifice and martyrdom,” said PMA superintendent Lt. Gen. Rowen Tolentino, who was the guest speaker. INQ


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Baguio-Cebu flights seen to boost Cordillera tourism

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TAGS: Baguio City, COVID-19, restrictions, Tourism

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