No pressure to revive local tourism – Puyat
BAGUIO CITY, Benguet, Philippines — The Department of Tourism will not compel local governments to reopen to visitors despite pressure to revive jobs lost to the coronavirus pandemic, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said here on Tuesday.
Stressing that “health and safety are still our priority,” Puyat supported plans to build a tourism destination corridor, or “tourism bubble,” to help restore the industry that had been the hardest hit by the health crisis.
Since the lockdown in March, the tourism industry here has lost P1.6 billion from canceled hotel bookings and closure of restaurants and leisure areas.In her speech at the 111th anniversary of the establishment of Baguio as a chartered city, Puyat cited the tourism exchange program that Baguio would start with the towns and provinces in the Ilocos region to recreate jobs for over 4,000 displaced tourism workers, including artists and local craftsmen.
Ilocos region governors attended the event to discuss the strategy to help communities that have been identified for their readiness and willingness to take back tourists.
According to Puyat, Baguio has become a model city for containing the coronavirus through its “excellent contact-tracing system,” and “fortitude to suspend the Panagbenga Flower Festival.”
“[Canceling the flower festival], a major crowd-drawing event, averted what could have been a dire situation,” she said.But reopening Baguio tourism would be undertaken with “sufficient caution,” she said, with the help of a multiplatform digital application called “Visita” (visitor information and travel assistance).
“Anyone who wishes to come to Baguio will have to preregister, prebook, undergo the mandatory triage, and take a [real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction test] at his or her own expense,” she said.As a precautionary measure, movement of visitors would be monitored and the city tourism office would only allow a limited number of tourists at a given time, Puyat said.On Tuesday, the city government reopened some parks for residents only as it eased some restrictions, including the lifting of the liquor ban.
However, business establishments within recreational areas would remain closed.
Mayor Benjamin Magalong said they expected to accept the first batch of tourists this month or early October.
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