No province ready to reopen tourism yet, DOT chief says
Rosette Adel ( - June 3, 2020 - 9:35pm

MANILA, Philippines — Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat on Tuesday bared that some local government units now placed under Modified General Community quarantine are still not keen on reopening tourism in their jurisdictions.

Under the rules of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases, tourism will only be allowed under modified GCQ.

As of June 3, only the National Capital Region; Cagayan Valley Region; Central Luzon; CALABARZON; Central Visayas; Zamboanga City; Davao City; and Pangasinan are placed under GCQ, the rest of the country is under MGCQ.

However, Puyat said that “there’s no province that’s ready to accept tourists” at the moment.

“Like, of course, right now we are under GCQ, and even under GCQ-to-GCQ, a lot of provinces are hesitant to accept commercial flights. So I think that the DOTr (Department of Transportation) will be talking to the DILG (Department of Interior and Local Government) and will be discussing this with the LGUs when they are even ready to accept commercial flights,” Puyat said in a virtual press briefing on Tuesday.  

“So for us at the DOT (Department of Tourism), this also gives us time to process all the hotels for them to have their certificate to operate. So this gives us time and also to talk to the LGUs if they’re actually ready,” she added.

Puyat also said that people under GCQ cannot travel to MGCQ places.

“We have to be under Modified GCQ and we’re looking first for people to travel by land,” she added.

The tourism chief said that the DOT is already coordinating with the local governments of Baguio, La Union, Baler, and Pampanga and Batangas provinces as they are eyeing to prioritize travel by land in MGCQ-to-MGCQ areas.

“We see that the tourists, when under the Modified GCQ, they will go first around their municipality, then around their city, then later on inter-island,” Puyat said.

Baguio to open in September, Bohol in July

According to Puyat, Baguio Mayor Benjamin Magalong already said that although the City of Pines is already under MGCQ, he is only comfortable with opening it to tourists in September while Bohol Gov. Arthur Yap is eyeing to reopen tourism in July at the earliest.

On the other hand, she said that the country’s top tourist destination, Boracay, is planning to build a COVID-19 test lab which will be coordinated with Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu and Interior Secretary Eduardo Año. Cimatu and Año are both members of the Boracay inter-agency task force in charge of the island rehabilitation.

“What’s good about this is that all our tourist spots especially when I was talking to Mayor Magalong, when I asked him why September, he said, ‘better safe but sure. Because if there will be one outbreak, the whole Baguio will be affected’,” Puyat said in English and Filipino

“So I appreciate it that our LGUs are being very careful and when they are ready to have tourists it will be surely safe if someone will go there,” he added.

The tourism chief said the DOT has yet to announce which tourist destination will reopen first.

“As it is now they’re all preparing all their own safety protocols,” she added.

Puyat has been advocating a slow but sure reopening, citing that there is a need to “restore the confidence of tourists for them to be able to travel.”

The DOT chief is eyeing to make Baguio a model tourist spot for physical distancing, and what other tourist spots in the country can emulate.

No DOT certificate, no business operations during MGCQ

Meanwhile, the DOT reminded hotel owners and commercial establishments to secure certificate to operate and practice measures such as sanitation and physical distancing, among others. It said that the DOT accreditation is free.

“All Accommodation Establishments  that intend to commence commercial operations in Community Quarantine Zones, whether for the accommodation of guests or operations of in-house food facilities for take–out or delivery, shall secure a DOT Certificate of Authority to Operate prior to any operations,” the DOT said, quoting Section 3 of the Administrative Order 2020-002 otherwise known as the Guidelines on the Operations of Hotels and other Accommodation Establishments under a Community Quarantine.

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