It looks like you can’t travel to Baguio as a friend anytime soon. The summer capital city of the Philippines has decided to temporarily suspend the approval of travel permits for leisure purposes. This is in line with the rise of COVID-19 cases and the Omicron variant threat in the country.
On January 2, the Baguio City Tourism Office made the formal announcement that leisure travel requests via Baguio VISITA will not be approved until further notice. If you’ve already booked your trip and secured your request for approval, you don’t have to worry about canceling your bookings. The city government said that all travels with pre-approved QR-coded Tourist Pass will still be allowed entry on their declared travel dates, but subject to mandatory triage.
“All pre-approved travels with issued QTP (QR-coded Tourist Pass) will still be honored and allowed entry on declared travel date, still subject to mandatory triage upon entry,” the Baguio Tourism Office said in an announcement. “Such consideration may change in the future but with prior announcement, so keep posted.”
If you’re traveling to Baguio as an APOR or essential/official travel, you will have to register via hdf.baguio.gov.ph. All the necessary documents and other requirements are listed on the site as well.
Given the exponential rise of new COVID-19 cases in the country, this announcement comes as no surprise. While Baguio City was steadily recovering from its tourism losses in 2021, the sudden surge in cases might have serious consequences if not managed as soon as possible.
In case you missed it, it’s not just Baguio that’s proactively issuing restrictions amid the alarming number of new COVID-19 cases. Metro Manila mayors have agreed to restrict the movement of unvaccinated individuals starting January 3. Metro Manila is under Alert Level 3 from January 3 to 15 and is currently at high risk of getting an infection.
Aside from the restriction for unvaccinated individuals, face-to-face classes have been suspended as well. The Department of Education (DepEd) made this decision to protect the students in the country.
Baguio may have been the first tourist destination to announce travel suspension, but it’s expected that others will follow suit. While it may be a nuisance to have to cancel travel plans, doing so might literally save a life. That’s why you should stay at home as much as possible.
Art Daniella Sison