With the gradual reopening of the country’s domestic tourism, Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said that the carrying capacity of local travel destinations is being scaled down to prevent adverse effects to the environment as well as to local communities.
Puyat previously reiterated that she will no longer allow “over-tourism,” or the absence of good management and uncontrolled development in tourism destinations. The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) said the recent buzzword does not only refer to congestion of visitors particularly in popular areas but also the capacity to manage them.
“We were able to transform the closure into a stepping stone by using the time to thoroughly prepare for safe and gradual reopening, with sustainability at the industry’s core,” she said.
Boracay Island, which will take in more local tourists starting on Oct. 1, will only allow a limited number of tourists with around 200 hotels gearing up for the reopening even at the height of the COVID-19 crisis. The figures will be lower than the island’s average carrying capacity during the pre-pandemic period that is around 19,000 tourists.
Baguio City, which is targeting to welcome residents from Region 1 on the same date, will initially accept 200 visitors per day, while Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union, and Pangasinan, the provinces that signed up for the North Luzon regional tourism circuit, will also accept an average number of 50 tourists per day in mid-October.
The tourism chief also stressed that tourism establishments and operations are required to comply with health and safety guidelines as local travel slowly resumes.
“As worldwide travel restrictions are still in place, we will count on domestic tourism to lead the way to recovery. When our destinations are ready to welcome visitors, it will be a time to rediscover more of our country, experience more of our own culture, and keep the fun going,” she added.