DOT promoting domestic travel despite COVID-19 cases
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Tourism (DOT) will continue to promote travel to domestic destinations even after the Philippines has confirmed cases of local transmission of the new coronavirus.
Tourism Undersecretary Benito Bengzon Jr. said the DOT listens to the advisories of the Department of Health (DOH), but it was continuing with its plan to promote domestic tourism.
“We need to understand that there has been a slowdown in the entry of foreign tourists, our usual source market. What we need to do is to keep tourism activities going especially in local communities,” Bengzon said at a press briefing in Malacañang.
Shifting to local tourism would help hotels, resorts, restaurants, and workers like boatmen and souvenir sellers to continue their operations, he said.
“The instruction of [Tourism] Secretary [Berna] Puyat is to push for domestic tourism so that the establishments are able to operate at a viable level. That would continue,” he said.
President Duterte himself had called on the public to visit the various destinations throughout the country.
The Chief Executive himself was supposed to visit top tourist sites, but it was not clear yet if the schedule would push through.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said he would bring up the issue of promoting domestic tourism when he meets again with the interagency task force to discuss their messaging.
Duque said the agreement between the DOH, DOT and Department of the Interior and Local Government to encourage people to visit different areas of the country was reached before the Philippines confirmed its first case of the localized transmission of COVID-19 on March 5.
According to Duque, the department had agreed that it was fine to go to crowded places as long as precautionary measures are followed. For instance, hotels should have enough disinfectants and should use thermal guns to check guests for fever, he said. INQ
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