COVID-19 pandemic: More tourist destinations eyed to reopen, but some LGUs ‘hesitant’ for now — DOT

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 17)— The government is eyeing the gradual reopening of more tourist destinations, in a bid to revive the Philippines’ tourism industry amid the COVID-19 crisis. However, some local governments remain “hesitant”— as they seek to establish tighter health protocols before opening their doors to the public.

Speaking to CNN Philippines, Tourism Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat said officials are in talks with the local governments of Bohol, Baguio, and El Nido in Palawan— but noted the areas are still boosting their health measures and capacities before deciding to accept tourists.

“We are already talking to (Bohol) Governor (Arthur) Yap. Although he is still under GCQ (general community quarantine), like Boracay, he is making sure that his COVID lab is already done,” Puyat said in an interview with The Source. “We’re looking at it maybe July.”

Puyat added that Baguio is also eyeing to open by September, citing city Mayor Benjamin Magalong’s call for stricter health and safety protocols.

The Tourism chief added some hotels in popular resort destination El Nido were also given licenses to operate— but its local government also remained on the fence with regards to opening.

“LGUs are still hesitant, but of course because they want protocols to be in place. That’s what we’re doing. We’re helping the different LGUs who are now under a modified GCQ to maybe help them with their protocols so that people who come there will be safe,” Puyat noted.

World-class beach destination Boracay was the first to open its doors amid the coronavirus pandemic— with the island permitted to accept tourists from Western Visayas starting Tuesday.

Philippine tourist spots were forced to halt operations earlier this year as local and international travel bans took effect to help contain the spread of the mysterious disease.

Puyat said the DOT has reported a 60 percent decrease in terms of revenue since the height of the pandemic.

Despite the continuous rise in COVID-19 cases, lockdown measures in majority of the country were eased in June in a bid to restart the economy and help crisis-affected workers. To date, the Philippines has logged over 26,000 cases of the viral disease.