(File photo)

MANILA – About 53 percent of the country's tourism workers have been vaccinated against the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), raising hopes for the safe resumption of tourism activities under the new normal.

In Metro Manila, Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said 99 percent of workers in hotels and DOT-accredited restaurants have been inoculated, along with 97 percent of the region's tour guides and tour operators.

"(K)ung pag-uusapan mo ang buong Pilipinas, ang bakunado ay 53 percent (If it's nationwide, the vaccinated is 53 percent)," Puyat said Thursday, adding that the DOT would ramp up the inoculation campaign for tourism workers to reach 100 percent before Christmas.

As she hoped for the reopening of more destinations before the year ends, she said the DOT would also see to it that the accredited accommodation establishments are compliant with government protocols.

"Sana tuluy-tuloy na ito kasi hindi kagaya last year na wala pang bakuna. At least ngayon, may bakuna na at we are actively vaccinating lahat ng tourism workers (I hope this development is continuous, unlike last year. At least now, we already have the vaccines and we are actively inoculating our tourism workers)," Puyat said.

Under Alert Level 4 of the pilot Covid-19 alert level system, leisure travel for age 18 years to 65 years traveling from Metro Manila to areas under general community quarantine and modified GCQ are allowed so long as the destination's local government permits.

However, the DOT is also pushing for the removal of the age restriction as most Filipinos travel as a family, Puyat said.

Outdoor or al fresco dine-in are permitted at 30 percent venue capacity in Alert Level 4 in the National Capital Region (NCR) but staycations, indoor visitor or tourist attractions, and indoor venues for Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, Exhibitions (MICE) remain prohibited.

The tourism chief assured that the DOT conducts regular "spot checks" to make sure all DOT-accredited hotels in the NCR comply with the current alert level measures. (PNA)