PH prepares to revive domestic tourism under strict protocols

<p>Boracay island <em>(File photo)</em></p>

Boracay island (File photo)

MANILA – The Department of Tourism (DOT) is preparing for the revival and reopening of tourism in the country once areas are classified under the modified general community quarantine (MGCQ).

During the hearing of the Senate Committee of the Whole on the Impact of Covid 19, Tourism Sec. Bernadette Romulo-Puyat presented a situation on the country’s tourism industry and response measures undertaken by the department to mitigate the economic impact of the pandemic.

“It is important that we embrace the new normal and equip our industry stakeholders with the appropriate tools and knowledge to recover and succeed in the post-lockdown era,” Puyat said during the hearing.

The initiative would help provide livelihoods and generate jobs for Filipinos in identified areas where tourism is their primary source of revenue, the DOT said.

Early preparation will help the tourism sector transition properly and safely once travel restrictions have been lifted and domestic travel resumes for all areas.

The department will identify the destinations based on places that highly depend on tourism for their local economy, will be under the MGCQ classification, and are a relatively smaller destination where activities can be contained and better managed.

As to who can visit these destinations, the DOT is currently targeting residents from nearby places that are already placed under GCQ. Visiting tourists will follow the local government units' rules on strict entry guidelines.

“The safety and well-being of both the tourists and residents alike have always been the priority of the DOT. In our Tourism Response and Recovery Plan (TRRP), we have prepared initial safety plans and protocols for travelers and tourism enterprises for the new normal in travel following the community quarantine," Puyat said.

The TRRP was made in coordination with the respective national agencies and private sector tourism stakeholders through the Tourism Congress of the Philippines (TCP).

This includes priority programs and activities in support of the Philippine tourism industry, particularly for business owners and laborers.

Some safety measures defined in the plan are:

1. Regular sanitation and disinfection of accommodation (hotels, resorts, etc.), tourist transport services, and tourism-related establishments such as meeting and exhibit venues, restaurants, spas, and the like.

2. Provision of sanitation/disinfecting devices, including PPE, for tourism workers.

3. Regular inspections of tourism establishments that will involve relevant agencies about health and safety standards such as the DOH.

4. Implementation of physical distancing measures for tourist transportation and limiting the customer capacity of accommodation and tourism-related enterprises.

In 2018, the tourism industry made up 12.7 percent of the Philippines’ gross domestic product (GDP) and provided 5.4 million jobs for Filipinos.

Last year, the tourism industry achieved a new milestone of 8.26 million foreign tourists.

For the first four months of 2020, the DOT recorded a 54.02 percent decrease in foreign arrivals. (DOT PR)