Baguio tourist arrivals hit near pre-pandemic level

THE BAGUIO Botanical Garden is decorated this year with a ‘Christmas Around the World’ theme. It is open daily from 7 a.m. – 3 p.m., and 6 p.m. to midnight. — BAGUIO CITY-PIO

REGISTERED visitor arrivals in the mountain city of Baguio reached about 1.2 million from March to November and a surge is expected in December with the Christmas holidays, according to the city government, noting that 1.57 million tourists were recorded in 2019.   

Supervising City Tourism Operations Officer Engr. Aloysius Mapalo said this year’s official count does not include day visitors who do not pre-book in accredited accommodation establishments.   

“Despite the presence of the Visitors Information and Travel Assistance (VISITA) registration platform, the recorded number of tourists by the accredited tourism-related establishments does not still reflect the real state of the local tourism industry,” he said.   

Mr. Mapalo said the return of visitors to one of the most popular destinations in northern Philippines has been a big boost to local businesses hit hard by the pandemic lockdown.   

He cited that businesses along with the city government lost an estimated income of P5.7 billion in 2020 with visitor arrivals dropping to 268,000.   

Continued restrictions in 2021 kept visitor numbers at about 300,000.  

“The conduct of various tourism-related activities over the past several months contributed in enticing tourists to visit the city and become aware of its rich culture and history as a designated (UNESCO) Creative City for Crafts and Folk Arts,” the tourism official said.  

He said various activities lined up for the Christmas celebration are expected to keep drawing in guests.   

He added that the tourism industry’s recovery momentum is seen to continue next year, especially with the Baguio Flower Festival or Panagbenga in February. — MSJ