DOT convinces LGUs to open up their areas to local tourists

Published July 29, 2020, 5:26 PM

by Hanah Tabios

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat is asking tourism stakeholders to help her convince the local government units (LGUs) in the country to reopen for domestic tourists.

DOT Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat

In an interview aired over ONE News on Wednesday, she said she already asked the Tourism Congress of the Philippines (TCP) to join her in talking with every LGU in every region. 
Puyat said she wants even non-tourism players, which includes residents of the provinces, to be present in the dialogue to assure them that even with the gradual domestic tourism reopening, the DOT’s plan would ensure safety for all.
The DOT has issued several health and safety protocols governing each industry, including accommodation establishments, dine-in services, transportation, meetings, incentives, conferences, exhibitions (MICE), among others.
“I am asking the [tourism] stakeholders that when we finally do this, I want you to be beside me, not just me alone, to help convince [even] the non-tourism residents that this [domestic tourism reopening] is safe,” she said in Filipino.
Though several tourism areas have already transitioned to modified general community quarantine (MGCQ), Puyat said the situation on the ground dictates otherwise, wherein local chief executives, who have the final say on the matter, remain hesitant to accept tourists.
At present, Boracay which opened on June 16, is just accepting visitors from Western Visayas. While other tourism areas like Palawan, Zambales, Bulacan and some Central Luzon provinces welcome only their residents.
In Central Visayas, the governors of Bohol, Cebu, Negros Oriental, and Siquijor, the only COVID-free island in the region, are set to convene on August 12 to discuss the common concerns for the reopening of domestic tourism.
But Baguio City, according to Puyat, will reopen to tourists even for non-residents in September as mentioned to her by Mayor Benjamin Magalong, now the country’s contact tracing czar.
Meanwhile, in a separate text message to the Manila Bulletin, the tourism chief clarified that despite the reclassification of some Category IV industries to Category III per Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) Resolution Number 59, she said tourism will only open in Metro Manila if it’s under MGCQ.  
Tourism industries belongs to Category IV but some areas now under MGCQ may start opening up libraries, archives, museums, cultural centers, tourist destinations, among others, beginning August 1, according to IATF.