LOCAL TOURISM. Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat (left) tries one of the processes of making puto (rice cake), a well-known product of Calasiao town in Pangasinan on June 20, 2021. Puyat was joined by Calasiao town Mayor Mark Joseph Bauzon (fourth from right). (Photo courtesy of Gerard Quinit)

LINGAYEN, Pangasinan – Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat on Monday said her department is focusing on domestic tourism over international tourism amid the ongoing pandemic. 
In a press conference here, Puyat said the DOT registered more domestic tourists with 110 million in the past year as compared to the international tourists with just 8.2 million. 
“We focus first on domestic tourism right now in order for the industry to bounce back,” she said. 
Puyat said they are not keen on opening the country yet to international tourists due to the new coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) variants. 
However, DOT also looks forward to catering to foreign tourists in the near future once the Covid-19 situation is better. 
“As of now, overseas Filipino workers are allowed (to enter the country),” she said. 
She added they are asking the Inter-Agency Task Force for shorter quarantine days to further encourage tourists to come. 
Kahit open tourism ayaw nila dahil sa quarantine mauubos na bakasyon nila. (Even though tourism is open, they are not patronizing it because of the quarantine that takes most of their vacation leave),” 
Puyat said they are also encouraging island destinations to conduct their own vaccination to boost the immunization program among tourists. 
She is confident that as more and more people are vaccinated, it will give higher chances for the opening of international tourism. 
“You shouldn’t only protect tourists but also the workers and the locals,” she added. 
Meanwhile, Puyat commended the tourism sites in the province of Pangasinan as she visits the province this week. 
“Pangasinan is very beautiful. We will promote it as it is near the National Capital Region,” she said. (PNA)