Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat on Tuesday led the official launch of Baguio City’s first online management system for the “Ridge to Reef” travel bubble program.
Puyat is back in the Philippines’ summer capital to meet with the heads of local governments in the Ilocos region who earlier forged a partnership with the Baguio City local government unit (LGU) to be the pilot areas for the travel corridor plan as part of the reopening of the country’s domestic tourism.
“We are introducing a new digital monitoring system that will be used to keep track of visitor activities to protect our tourists and the communities within the new green corridor. This will also complement the stringent inter-provincial border controls designed to safeguard the public’s health and safety in CAR and Region 1,” Puyat said in her opening remarks.
Dubbed as the Baguio Visitor Information and Travel Assistance or VIS.I.T.A., the digital platform will have the following features:
1) a Visitor Web Dashboard for account registration, travel registration, payments, QR coupon reading, and dispensing travel advisories and tourism information.
2) 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.
3) 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.
4) a Mobile App, for the mobile version of V.I.S.I.T.A.’s web functions. It receives real-time notifications, and can be used as a travel guide and for assistance.
“In the months following the coronavirus outbreak, the DOT 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,” she added.
The DOT provided technology assistance to Baguio City’s local government for free through the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB), to support the city’s gradual reopening to tourists, starting with the Ridge and Reef Corridor Plan with the provinces of La Union, Pangasinan, Ilocos Sur, and Ilocos Norte (BLUPISIN).
In addition to the launching of the Baguio VIS.I.T.A. and the Ridge and Reef Corridor Plan, Puyat also visited the mini travel and trade fair that featured participating businesses from BLUPISIN.
“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,” she said.
In her previous interview, the tourism chief noted that the local heads in the Visayas and Mindanao regions are watching for the success of the travel bubble program so other tourism sites identified in the regional tourism circuits may also reopen soon especially for leisure travelers.
Puyat also said that the reopening of domestic tourism will also aid losing tourism businesses and embattled workers who were among the hardest hit by the unprecedented crisis brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.
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