Baguio Burnham Park (File photo)

MANILA – Malacañang is elated over Filipinos’ restored confidence in tourism, noting that travel plays a significant role in reviving the Philippine economy.

Acting presidential spokesperson and Communications Secretary Martin Andanar made this remark following reports that domestic travel spiked during the recent Holy Week from April 14 to 17.

This year’s Holy Week was the first major vacation break for Filipinos under Alert Level 1, after enduring two years of travel restrictions due to Covid-19 pandemic.

“Magandang balita ‘yan, dumadami na ang mga turista. So ibig sabihin yung confidence level ng ating mga kababayan na magbakasyon ay nandiyan na matapos nga ang mga lockdown (That is good news, that there are more tourists. This means the confidence level of our people is being restored after lockdowns),” Andanar said in a Palace press briefing.

Andanar expressed confidence that tourism-dependent cities and provinces will surely be able to bounce back in a matter of time.

He, however, reminded the public to ensure the observance of minimum public health standards as Covid-19 remains a major threat to the nation’s health and well-being.

“The pandemic is not yet over…Patuloy nating pinapaalala sa ating mga kababayan na huwag itigil yung (We continue to remind our countrymen not to stop complying with) minimum health protocols,” he said.

Following reports that Boracay Island has breached its carrying capacity for tourists, Andanar assured that the Department of Tourism has "apprised" both the Department of the Interior and Local Government and the Department of Environment of Natural Resources of the tourism overcapacity concern.

“DILG and DENR have been apprised of the breach regarding the excess carrying capacity in Boracay. Antayin po natin ang kanilang report (Let us await their report),” he said.

Based on a report by the Malay Tourism Office, a total of 21,252 tourist arrivals were recorded on April 14 and 22,519 on April 15.

The current carrying capacity of Boracay Island is 19,215.

Carrying capacity refers to “the maximum number of persons which could visit a location within a given period, such that local environmental, physical, economic, and socio-cultural characteristics are not compromised, and without reducing tourist satisfaction”, according to the World Tourism Organization.

Partially lifted

Meanwhile, Andanar also confirmed that the government has partially lifted the ban on the deployment of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to Ethiopia.

“Government has partially lifted the ban on the deployment of OFWs to Ethiopia based on the board resolution made by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA). This after the alert level in Ethiopia was lowered from 4 to 2,” he said.

The Ethiopian government is currently in conflict with the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF).

Reports showed that Ethiopia’s civil war has killed thousands of civilians, displaced millions and driven at least 400,000 people into famine. (PNA)