DOT hopes gradual reopening of economy in GCQ areas would help tourism industry
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Tourism (DOT) has expressed hope that the gradual reopening of several establishments now allowed to operate in areas under general community quarantine (GCQ) would help the tourism industry recover from its slump.
According to DOT, the latest decision by the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) to allow cinemas and other tourist attractions in GCQ areas to operate on a limited capacity would bode well for the tourism sector which has suffered several setbacks due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Back during the strict lockdown periods last March 2020, several industries connected to tourism like public transport, aviation, cruise lines, restaurants and event areas along with tourist spots were forced to either layoff employees or totally close shop.
“The [DOT] expressed optimism for tourism’s speedy recovery with the decision of the [IATF] to reclassify industries for the continued reopening of the economy,” DOT said in a statement.
Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said in the same statement that this may revitalize industries involved in meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions, or the MICE sector.
Puyat believes that the high unemployment rates may be countered by allowing such businesses to operate again.
“With this development, we see the revitalization of the MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) sector in General Community Quarantine (GCQ) areas and eventually, restoring our competitive advantage in the region,” she said.
“We also expect social events, though on limited scale, to resuscitate our accredited establishments, parks, historical landmarks, museums and other event locations, uplifting businesses along the value chain and more importantly, addressing employment and underemployment concerns,” she added.
Earlier, Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said that the IATF has specifically allowed the reopening of the following businesses in areas under a GCQ:
- driving schools
- traditional cinemas, and video and interactive-game arcades
- libraries, archives, museums, and cultural centers
- meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions
- limited social events at credited establishments of the Department of Tourism
- limited tourist attractions, such as parks, theme parks, natural sites and historical landmarks.
Restrictions on religious services and gatherings are also eased, allowing 50 percent of an area’s total capacity starting February 15.
For its part, DOT said that it would start crafting out implementing guidelines for the reopening of the establishments as well as the relaxation of the restrictions.
“These will specify their operational capacity, the conditions for their operations, and the health and safety protocols to mitigate risks following DOH’s risk framework,” it added.
From the start of the pandemic up to recent months, several business have folded down due to financial pressures brought by the lockdown. While DOT expressed optimism about the tourism industry’s revival, several establishments are still affected by the pandemic.
In June, bus line Victory Liner which operates mostly in Northern Luzon has decided to lay off employees for the first time in 75 years, whereas Corregidor tour provider Sun Cruises has totally closed due to the pandemic’s effects.
But the closures did not end in 2020: Makati Shangri-La, one of Metro Manila’s five-star hotels, also announced that they would temporarily cease operations while retrenching a number of its workers.
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