Getting ready all around

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The recent upsurge in transmission cases — last week 36 were listed up all in a day, but yesterday, the number just ballooned further up in a day’s record, all 46 — may have caused tourism’s re-opening somewhat. But, as Mayor Benjie keeps on assuring us, everything’s under swift control. We’re ready for the first 200 tourists from the Ilocos provinces, La Union and Pangasinan, ready to receive them as gladsome as Baguio hosts are.

In ceremonies made somber by the prevailing times — the pandemic remains a potent and vicious threat — Baguio formally launched the mechanics of what portends to be a unique, unprecedented tourism exchange program between neighboring localities, in what has been billed as a much-awaited event by other tourist-hungry locales. Bohol, Boracay are just on the wings, girding up, gearing up their own border-opening restrictions.

Make no mistake about it, it’s all about being safe. Ours and theirs as contact becomes inevitable between visitor and visited. Thus, the frequent admonition resonating every now and then: Be safe, be sure, be responsible.

As echoed by Mayor Benjie in the launching program of Tourism Bubble, “today is our moment in time. As we launch the Tourism Bubble, a uniquely crafted tourist exchange program between Baguio and our brother Ilocanos and Pangasinenses, we do so with pride in our hearts. After all, we open up Baguio tourism to no less than compatriot Filipinos with whom we have had strong and enduring ancestral and filial roots for more than a hundred years now.

“We are opening up our city to welcome our northern brothers in Region One in an unprecedented but innovative way that makes possible safety and economic concerns to go hand in hand. But, and here let me be emphatic, reviving tourism will most assuredly be done safely, surely, and steadily.

“The goal is crystal clear: to make sure that no one — tourists and residents alike —gets into harm’s way. Ito ang hamon sa ating kakayahan — and gawing ligtas ang sinoman sa panahon ng pagbubukas ng Baguio sa mga darating na bisita.

There is no doubt the imperative behind this out-of-the-box tourism program. In these continued times, even as we remain threatened by the pandemic, we must still do everything safely possible for our economy to get back on its feet, for tourism no less than to give us back the economic means of growing once more.

Definitely, today’s tourism influx may not be from the usual numbers coming in by the hundreds of thousands. It may not be from the day-to-day rhapsodic expenditure of tourist money from which jobs and livelihood have been reliant on.

What is taking place is simply to make tourism bolster an economy that covid-19 has wrought unspeakable havoc to businesses, livelihood, jobs, family income, and tourism receipts that disappeared in just 4 months.

To our fellow provincial and city cousins, we are proud of our regional kinship with each other, and we will do our best in making your stay — brief or longer — worth your time, trust, and treasure. And in due time, there’s no denying that we’d be more than glad for our Cordilleran brothers from across the mountain ranges to be part of the Ridge to Reef tourism splendorama.

There’s no denying that for a time, brotherly ties in these parts have somewhat gotten strained probably as a result of poor communication handling, no doubt from those called upon for the interacting engagement. But, everything has somewhat loosened up, as it often does, when the faith with each other is simply that deep and enduring. No doubt, backdoor talks among concerned parties have had a way of setting aside pedestrian issues in favor of regional causes to foster.

Get going, Baguio! Safely, slowly, surely. Nothing less than this will get us all through this dark night.