Traffic, crowds big concerns on Baguio flower fest return
BAGUIO CITY, Benguet, Philippines — The city is bracing for “hundreds of thousands” of visitors in February when the crowd-drawing Panagbenga (Baguio Flower Festival) restages its street dancing and floral float parades next month following the easing of health and travel restrictions due to the pandemic.
The Philippine Military Academy is also hosting its annual homecoming on Feb. 19, which will draw its own set of visitors.
United States Ambassador to the Philippines MaryKay Carlson has been invited to join both parades, which will be secured by 1,080 policemen, alongside firemen and health workers.
Mayor Benjamin Magalong on Wednesday asked Baguio residents for “more patience” after observing the “high irritability” among residents because of weekend crowding and traffic congestion.
Speaking at a news briefing, Magalong stressed that traffic routing schemes have been prepared and long-term mass transport projects have already been set in motion.
“Our priority now is to recover,” he said, noting the local economy suffered from two years of quarantines when leisure travel was prohibited.
Magalong said arrival figures for last year had yet to be validated, but local officials believed the volume of travelers in 2022 had surpassed the 1.5 million visitors recorded in 2019.The 2019 report did not include all booking records of many hotels, so Baguio could have hosted as many as 3 million, he said.
Magalong urged the city council to pass an ordinance requiring all hotels, inns and vacation houses to register booking details at the Baguio Visita (Visitor Information and Travel Assistant) platform to gather accurate tourism data.
Visita used to screen and approve guests entering Baguio during the early part of the pandemic, but has since been converted into a travel app run by the Baguio Tourism Council.
“We have to accept [the high tourist influx] and we need to adapt to it,” Magalong said.
25 years of Panagbenga help Baguio retain its summer capital fame
Gongs herald Panagbenga return
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.