REVIVING TOURISM. Department of Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said more people prefer to go to tourist spots with open spaces and with safety and health protocols in place during the Covid-19 pandemic. Puyat spoke to members of the media on Wednesday (Jan. 27, 2021) at the Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar in Bagac, Bataan. (Contributed photo)

BAGAC, Bataan – More tourists prefer to visit tourist spots with open spaces and those with safety and health protocols in place during the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic, the Department of Tourism (DOT) said Wednesday.

“We made a survey and 77 percent want to travel even without the Covid-19 vaccine yet but they want to go in areas with open air in small groups and with known health and safety protocols,” DOT Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said during a media interview.

She said Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar, a well-known theme park here, is an example of destinations preferred by more people.

Puyat said she has sought the permission of Las Casas owner Jerry Acuzar and Bataan Governor Albert Garcia for its inclusion in a book being prepared by DOT.

“Hindi lang open air ang hanap ng mga tao, ang gusto nila ay pwedeng puntahan by land at iikot muna within the municipality. Basta anything by land ang gusto nilang puntahan (People are not just looking for open air, they want to be able to go by land and go around within the municipality. They want to go to places they can reach by land travel),” she said.

Puyat observed that people are getting tired of staying indoors because of the community quarantine and now want to go out to see new sceneries.

“Pagod na pagod na ang mga tao sa bahay. Naghahanap na sila ng ibang tanawin kaya we are hoping na aside from Lasa Casas Filipinas de Acuzar and Mt. Samat ay may mapuntahan pang iba (People are very tired of staying at home. They are looking for another scenery, so we are hoping that aside from Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar and Mt. Samat, there are other places to go to,” she said.

Mt. Samat in Pilar town is the site of the Shrine of Valor built in remembrance of the bravery of Filipino and American soldiers during World War II.

Puyat said there are a few other tourist spots that have reopened in this province but she hoped that more will resume operation.

“But of course, we have to work with Governor Albert Garcia kasi syempre mas alam niya ang cases sa Bataan (because, of course, he knows the cases in Bataan),” the DOT chief said.

“Dito sa Bataan, we will ensure that we will enforce the same health and safety protocols kasi alam ko maraming nangangamba pa. Maraming local government units ayaw pang magbukas ng resorts. Kinakabahan baka daw makapagdala pa ng Covid-19 (I know many are still worried. Many local government units [LGUs] do not want to open resorts. They are concerned that this might bring Covid-19),” she said.

Puyat said she took a reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test before going to this town.

“So, 48 hours hindi pwedeng magpunta dito kung hindi negative ang test (cannot go here if the test is not negative),” she said.

The Tourism chief noted that about 4.7 million people in the industry have been affected by the pandemic.

“We want tourism back slowly but surely para makatrabaho na mga tao (so that people could work) but with the consent of the LGUs,” Puyat said.

“Dapat ay makipag-ugnayan sa LGU, sa governor, sa mayor dahil sila ang mag-i-implement. Hindi namin pinipilit ang governor o mayor kasi alam nila ang cases sa lugar nila. Ang ginagawa lang namin ay kinakausap ang mayor kung ano ba ang kailangan nila para magbukas (There must be coordination with the LGU, governor, mayor because they are the ones that will implement. We are not forcing the governor or mayor because they know the cases in their areas. All we do is talk to the mayor about what they need to open),” she said.

She said she respected the LGUs that are strict in implementing health protocols like Garcia and Bagac Mayor Ramil del Rosario who are making sure that reopening of tourism will not cause a spread of Covid19.

Puyat said she has long planned to visit the Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar. “It is so beautiful!” she exclaimed.

She was welcomed by Acuzar and some provincial officials led by Dinalupihan Mayor Maria Angela Garcia, president of the Bataan League of Municipalities.

The governor said via Zoom that the Provincial Tourism Office was coordinating with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to avail of a zero-interest loan that owners of tourist sites in the province could use to reopen their business.

Garcia thanked Puyat for helping Bataan in its tourism programs.

He said they are strict and extra careful in reopening tourist sites in the province “to protect our citizens from the threat of Covid-19”.

“Ang ibang resorts ay hindi pa talaga nagbubukas dahil delikado pa ang sitwasyon pero ang iba naman ay (Some resorts have not really opened yet because the situation is still dangerous but others are) in the process of completing their requirements),” the governor said.

Del Rosario said they have to be strict in the implementation of safety protocols for the sake of their residents. (PNA)