Department of Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat with Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong, Ilocos Norte Governor Matthew Joseph Marcos Manotoc, Ilocos Sur Governor Ryan Luis Singson, La Union Governor Francisco Ortega III, and Pangasinan Governor Amado Espino III leads the launching of the Ridge and Reef Baguio and Region 1 Travel Corridor.

The Department of Tourism (DOT) and local officials in Region 1 and Baguio launched the Ridge and Reef Baguio and Region 1 Travel Corridor in Baguio City earlier this day.

The highlight of the event was the introduction of VISITA platform, which is Baguio City’s first online visitor management system that will help the city monitor tourist activities as part of COVID-19 safety protocols once they begin accepting tourists from the provinces in Region 1 this coming October. 

The Reef and Ridge travel corridor intends to connect Baguio City to Region 1, known as Ilocos and Pangasinan region, in phases through controlled itineraries. Under the Ridge and Reef concept, tour packages are required to have tour transportation and tour guides that will assist visitors and guarantee that they do not deviate from controlled itineraries. 

It is one of the solutions the DOT came up with to jump-start local tourism in the country six months after the pandemic curtailed the tourism industry.  

“Travel corridors were one of the most viable methods by which we could reopen tourism,” according to Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat. “These are zones between countries or territories that have demonstrated the capacity to effectively control the spread of COVID-19. When applied to domestic tourism, it will allow the citizens of certain provinces or regions to travel safely within designated zones though public health and safety will continue to be closely safeguarded,” Puyat added.

“As we launch the tourism bubble for the tourism enterprise, we do so with great pride. We are opening up our city to welcome our northern brothers in Region 1 in an unprecedented but innovative way that makes possible safety and economic concerns to go hand in hand. Reviving tourism will most assuredly be done slowly, surely and safely in a calibrated, graduated manner. The goal is crystal clear, to make sure no one, our residents, visitors, tourists, travelers will never get into harm’s way,” said Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong.

The management of tourism activities in Baguio under the new normal would be more seamless through the use of VISITA.

As a digital monitoring system, VISITA digital monitoring system will be used to keep track of visitor activities to ensure that safety protocols are followed within the new green corridor.

Dubbed as the Baguio Visitor Information and Travel Assistance or VISITA, the digital platform will have the following features:

  • A Visitor Web Dashboard for account registration, travel registration, payments, QR coupon reading, and dispensing travel advisories and tourism information;
  • A Site Portal for the profile registration of tourism establishments, services, and sites. It also hosts the check in/out mechanism and centralized contact-tracing database;
  • An Admin Interface, for the real-time monitoring of visitor profiles and sites visited; setting registration requirements and visitor criteria. It contains data analytics and advisories; and
  • A Mobile App, for the mobile version of VISITA’s web functions. It receives real-time notifications, and can be used as a travel guide and for assistance.

The DOT provided the technology for free to Baguio’s local government through the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) to support the city’s gradual reopening to travelers from La Union, Pangasinan, Ilocos Sur, and Ilocos Norte under the Ridge and Reef Corridor Plan.

“In the months following the coronavirus outbreak, the department strongly encouraged its stakeholders to embrace the digitalization of their business processes. As the world moves toward contactless transactions, it was important that we adapted quickly to this ‘low-touch’ economy,” Puyat said.

“I am praying for the Ridge and Reef Travel Corridor’s success, as it will prove to local travelers that inter-regional tourism can be done safely, responsibly, and sustainably. As confidence in traveling locally grows, we hope to emulate its success in many other areas around the country, giving us valuable momentum for our push towards the tourism industry’s recovery,” Puyat said.