With many areas in the country now under a more relaxed general community quarantine (GCQ), the Department of Tourism (DOT) plans to jumpstart local tourism in these areas but under strict safety
protocols. Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said the department is looking at reviving tourism in these areas by encouraging locals to visit tourism spots in their communities, town, or province—places that they can reach easily via land travel.
“We are looking first at domestic tourism because it is the safest as there are no foreign travelers coming in or leaving. In domestic tourism, first you start within your municipality, within your city,
within your province. Eventually, if it’s already safe, you can travel inter island,” said Puyat during an interview by Karen Davila in an ANC morning show Headstart recently. The DOT is already in talks with local governments and the private sector for measures that will be followed once destinations begin to open for local tourism. “We are now talking with local government units on how they will enforce the new normal when local tourism opens. We need to get the confidence of the tourists that when they come to the tourist spots, it’s safe. That is what’s important.”
Tourism destinations, when they open up for local tourists, will strictly follow guidelines under the GCQ, according to Romulo. For example, tourism areas will only be accepting 50-percent capacity.
Greetings with handshakes will likewise be discouraged as social distancing norms will be followed. With the DOT already preparing for the opening of domestic tourism, Puyat is optimistic that by the
end of the year there will already be positive results. “We are very lucky because we have 7,641 islands. Even if you say there’s still a fear of flying, you can go to so many places around the country by land. And you know what’s nice when you talk to the private sector and the local government, number one for them is not even profit. Number one for them is we want it safe for our guests.” The tourism industry was hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. According to data presented by Puyat, income from tourism virtually stopped in April, which registered zero income. From January to March this year, income generated was only at P79.8 billion, which was way below the P180.5 billion earned by the industry in the same period last year.