BAGUIO’S local government is currently assessing the capacity ceiling that it will impose on visitor arrivals as nationwide coronavirus cases have generally plateaued and mobility restrictions are eased.

“To determine the threshold for tourists, we are now monitoring and looking at how far we can go in terms of the number of tourists to be allowed vis-a-vis the traffic situation, crowd movement and capacity and our ability to still implement physical distancing and other protocols,” Mayor Benjamin B. Magalong said in a statement on Sunday. 

He said setting a limit on the number of daily tourists that will be allowed entry in the popular mountain destination is particularly important in “convergence points like Session Road, night market and the city market.”

“Setting the threshold could help us ensure that tourism would not create any discomfort to the residents and the even to the tourists,” he said.  

The city government said the evaluation could also serve as “springboard for more concrete actions to achieve sustainable tourism where other negative effects of overtourism like destruction of the environment, culture and quality of life of the people are also addressed.” 

Baguio currently issues a maximum of 4,000 tourist entry approvals. It also maintains strict entry protocols through its triage site.

City Tourism Officer Aloysius Mapalo said visitor arrivals in Dec. 2021 reached 147,145, a high since the start of the pandemic. This dropped to 39,507 in January as stricter rules were reimposed due a coronavirus surge attributed to the Omicron variant. 

“We are just starting to see an increase this February with 46,676 arrivals from Feb. 1-20,” he said. — MSJ