Christmastime is Baguio’s tourist peak season

KNOW YOUR STATUS -- Baguio Center for Young Adults (BCYA) executive director and Aids Watch Advisory Council (AWAC) member Marlene de Catsro stresses a point during the observance of World Aids Day Celebration with the theme: “Know Your Status" during the City Hall flag raising ceremonies. **By Bong Cayabyab

BAGUIO CITY – Christmastime not Panagbenga or even the Holy Week break is currently Baguio City’s peak tourist season, according to the tourist statistics report of the City Tourism and Special Events Office.
The data which were supplied to the Dept. of Tourism and the Philippine Statistics Authority showed that from 2015 to 2017, the city posted the highest number of tourist arrivals covering local, foreign and balikbayan visitors in December.
In 2015, there were a total of 122,709 tourists in December; 86,965 in November; 118,501 in May; 122,447 in April; 97,190 in March and 106,373 in February.
The gap widened in 2016 where there were a total of 172,303 tourists in December; 119,060 in November; 129,121 in April; 111,678 in March and 104,568 in February.
In 2017, there were 198,599 in December; 147,464 in November; 144,447 in April; 111,362 in March and 129,572 in February.
According to the 2017 report, the city chalked up a 17.52 percent increase in tourist arrivals in 2017 with a total of 1,521,748 as against 2016’s figure of 1,294,906.
“Consistent growth is observed through the months with double-digit gains except for the months of March and June. However, highest volume is seen in the month of December with a total of 198,599 tourists,” the report noted.
Councilor Elmer Datuin who chairs the council committee on tourism and senior tourism operations officer Jose Maria Rivera told he City Hall Hour press briefing last Tuesday that the development inspired the city government to improve the yuletide activities under the Christmas in Baguio calendar.
Every year for over 20 years now, the activity has been mounted as the city’s flagship offering of colorful yuletide events for both residents and tourists who spend the holidays in the city.
As in the past years, the merrymaking began Dec. 1 with the traditional Children’s Mardigras and the Lantern Parade, now a joint undertaking of the St. Louis University and the city government.
Both activities are certified crowd-drawers by themselves.
A string of diverse activities have also been scheduled throughout the month including religious and gift-giving activities, anniversaries and festivals, trade fairs, musical performances and contests and sports treats.
According to the report, the 2017 data were collected from 100 out of 187 accredited and non-accredited licensed accommodation establishments in the city which is equivalent to 73.72 percent of rooms surveyed.
“It should be noted that data from alternative accommodation establishments such as homestay facilities or transient homes, serviced apartments and dormitories are not included, thus tourist arrivals data is understated,” the report said.
The tourism office uses the date on the volume of tourists to analyze tourist traffic, guests’ seasonality and volume of guests being served per type of size or location of accommodation establishment.
The report further said that domestic tourists continue to dominate the market representing 96.66 percent of the total number of tourists while foreign and overseas Filipinos represent 3.32 percent and 0.02 percent respectively.
USA still dominates the top ten foreign market of the city with 61 percent share or 8,836 followed by Korea with 43 percent or 6,256 and China with 21 percent of 3,297 tourists. ** Aileen P. Refuerzo

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