DOT prepares for ‘gradual re-opening’of tourist spots; cites Baguio-Ilocos ‘ridge to reef’ circuit

The Department of Tourism (DOT) on Saturday said it has been working with local government units, concerned agencies and stakeholders to gradually reopen the country's tourism industry "consistent with the President's direction."


The DOT said its efforts for the pandemic-hit sector is in line with President Duterte's "marching orders" that the any resumption of tourism activities should strictly comply with health and safety protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

"The Department of Tourism, consistent with the President’s direction, has been engaging with the local governments, other national government agencies and local tourism stakeholders for the gradual reopening of the sector while underscoring the strict compliance of health and safety protocols," it said in a statement.

The department said its regional offices have already identified several tourism circuits that can be reopened in light of the new normal.

"Similar to the Ridge to Reef Corridor of Baguio City with the Provinces of Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union and Pangasinan, these circuits may either be inter-region or inter-provinces depending on the readiness of the local governments to accept new visitors," the DOT said.

"These tourism circuits shall also have both new and recalibrated tourism products with corresponding health and safety protocols," it maintained.

"The DOT has repeatedly underscored that economic gains will be pursued along with safe, responsible and sustainable tourism. Establishing corresponding capacity requirements with health and safety protocols is the new normal."

It recalled that it rolled out early this year the digital applications "Safe Pass" and "Eat-In Express" to aid accredited establishments and restaurants reopen with contactless operations.

It said it also funded the Baguio City’s Visitor Information and Travel Assistance (VISITA), a multi-platform digital monitoring application to help with border control and contact tracing.

It vowed to explore similar corridors, circuits, and safe reopening in destinations that have low or no cases of COVID-19 infection in coordination with LGUs, the private sector and host communities.

The DOT said it expects the granular resumption of domestic tourism by the last quarter of this year and until the first six month of 2021. It also foresees regional international visitors by the second half of 2021, once border controls are lifted by other countries.