The Department of Tourism (DOT) will continue assisting local government units (LGUs) in the reopening of their tourist destinations.
In a virtual presser, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat cited that most LGUs opt to not open their local tourist spots due to possible violation of health and safety protocols, and the surge of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) cases.
“I think the LGUs only find it difficult as to how they would implement [minimum health standards], and scared for the surge of cases especially with the presence of the new variants,” she stated.
The tourism chief is quick to assure that the industry will not cause the outbreak of Covid-19 as evident in the many tourism destinations, which she said reopened successfully.
In Central Luzon, DOT confirmed that the provinces of Nueva Ecija, which is the home of the Minalungao National Park, and Aurora, which is famous for its surfing spots are still not allowing tourists despite being placed under modified general community quarantine.
“We understand that it is the decision of the LGUs, but many are already crying, especially the surfing community for losing their jobs. We will see how we could help, and what are the worries of the LGUs so that we can safely reopen,” Puyat shared.
For Bulacan, which is still under modified enhanced community quarantine, DOT is making ecotourism strategies and plans for Angat, Ipo, and Bustos watersheds, and provides online training to the workers and tour guides of these attractions.
With this, DOT is aiding the LGUs in their best practices as recovery plans that could be adapted by other provinces to implement in their respective tourist spots.
“I think we could seek the help of Intramuros as to how they have done the reopening with carrying capacity, where the number of people is only limited. Intramuros caters 14,000 people a day. When it reopened amidst the pandemic, we allowed only 100 people, then we increased it gradually because we want to prevent mass gatherings,” she mentioned.
Puyat specified that when Manila reopened Intramuros, the LGU implemented tourist registrations to know the number of people who are inside, put up handwashing stations and signages, and deployed monitoring personnel.
The secretary said that aside from the StaySafe.PH which is the national government’s official contact tracing digital application, the agency is developing a Cisco program to know if one person is wearing a face mask or not.
Moreover, DOT aided Boracay, Palawan and Siargao by subsidizing the RT-PCR tests, and gradually increasing the number of tourists to be allowed as a way of showing the locals that tourism will not cause the spread of the virus.
Puyat highlighted that the agency provided a P7 million worth of contact tracing application to Baguio to urge them to reopen last September, and P10 million to Boracay for the RT-PCR tests of the workers for it to be able to accept tourists last October.
Puyat pledged that the LGUs and the locals should not worry as the DOT will restart the tourism “slowly but surely, and everyone safe” for the sake of all those involved in the industry.