DOT chief hopes all tourist destinations under MGCQ can open by year-end

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 8)— The Tourism Department on Monday expressed hope that all tourist destinations in areas under modified general community quarantine can open within the year.

“All under MGCQ,” DOT Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat told CNN Philippines’ The Source when asked of other possible landmarks that may open by year-end.

“It should all be open because by the mere definition, if you’re under MGCQ, it means that your cases are low and leisure is already accepted,” she explained.

Puyat said she understands that some local governments are hesitant to accept tourists due to the ongoing virus threat. However, she argued that several tourist spots which earlier opened their doors to visitors have yet to report an outbreak since most local authorities ask for a negative COVID test prior to travel.

Several of the country’s acclaimed destinations have started accepting local tourists in a bid to revive the sector and help restart the economy.

Asked if the country will consider opening its doors to foreign tourists this year, Puyat said it’s “hard to say” since protocols – and the COVID-19 situation—are always changing.

“We are always pushing for more tourists to come in,” Puyat said. “But of course we have to weigh this in. We have to balance this with what our health sector has to say.”

RELATED: Foreign tourist arrivals drop by 83.7% in 2020 — DOT

Puyat said the government will focus on strengthening domestic tourism for now.