Leisure travelers, especially residents of Metro Manila, are still restricted from traveling to nearby tourism sites in Central Luzon, despite the region’s early transition to modified general community quarantine (MGCQ).
In an interview over DZBB Super Radyo, Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said majority of Central Luzon local tourist destinations still prefer to restart their domestic tourism exclusively for their own residents.
Puyat said the provinces of Aurora and Bataan still prohibit leisure travel.
Meanwhile, the provincial head of Nueva Ecija has reopened farm tourism sites only for local residents in the province.
Beach resorts in Zambales have also reopened its doors but only to locals per an executive order signed by Governor Hermogenes Ebdane Jr., according to Puyat.
“Locals within Zambales are permitted to visit the sites, beaches, and attractions. Restricted entry for non-Zambales residents,” she said.
Meanwhile, the tourism chief said the province of Bulacan has already reopened the area for local tourists but also at a limited capacity. Golf courses have now resumed operations, as well as some resorts in the municipality of San Rafael.
In Pampanga, the cities of Angeles and San Fernando, and even Clark have also reopened its malls, restaurants, and hotels.
As the nearest tourism destination in Metro Manila, the province is known for its high-class culinary dishes where food adventurers would often troop to.
But Puyat said: “They will operate at 50 percent capacity and strictly no buffet.”
Farther north, no province is also ready to open domestic tourism for a broader population. Only Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong had announced a plan to open the summer capital in September but with a very strict health protocols in place.
She said even when NCR transitions to MGCQ, the concurrence of the local heads is very important for the resumption of domestic tourism as they are the ones implementing the guidelines.
“I respect the LGUs that are not rushing to reopen [domestic tourism]. This means that they are very careful not only for the safety of their residents, but also for the safety of tourism workers,” she said in Pilipino.