In an interview with “The Chief” on One News, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said the industry is enforcing safety and health protocols under the new normal and destinations would have to reduce the number of tourists accommodated at a given time to ensure physical distancing.
Miguel de Guzman, file
Philippines targets higher-spending tourists
Catherine Talavera (The Philippine Star) - June 4, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines will be targeting higher-spending tourists as it moves forward under a new normal.

In an interview with “The Chief” on One News, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said the industry is enforcing safety and health protocols under the new normal and destinations would have to reduce the number of tourists accommodated at a given time to ensure physical distancing.

“(The way) we’re looking at it now, we’re going to be getting quality tourists. We want to get high-value tourists… And the high-value tourists are the ones who will spend, and it matters to them – the cleanliness and hygiene,” Puyat pointed out last Tuesday.

She emphasized that the country cannot focus on the quantity of tourists given the physical distancing measures that need to be enforced.

“What is important now until there’s no vaccine, physical distancing would be the new normal,” she added.

Department of Tourism (DOT) data show that international arrivals for January to May 2020 dropped 62.21 percent to 1.3 million arrivals from 3.49 million arrivals in the same period last year. The estimated inbound tourism revenues during this period plunged 60.56 percent to P81.05 billion from P205.50 billion in the same period a year ago.

Puyat emphasized that a tourist destination will have to reduce the number of tourists it accommodates at a certain time. She cited Boracay Island, with its carrying capacity of 19,000, would have to accommodate only half or lower than that number to ensure distancing.

She also noted that local government units (LGUs) and tourism stakeholders are not rushing the resumption of tourism activities as they want the revival to be slow but sure.

“Because if there is an outbreak in one tourist spot, it is not just that tourist spot that will be affected but the whole Philippines,” Puyat stressed.

At an earlier press briefing, she revealed that LGUs are not keen on opening up their areas to tourism right away. Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong is comfortable at opening the destination by September while Bohol Gov. Arthur Yap is looking at July at the earliest.

“So I actually appreciate it that our LGUs are being really careful. And when they are ready to have tourists, it is sure that they will be safe when they visit there,” Puyat added.  

Meanwhile, the DOT is pushing digital tourism while the leisure travel and other tourism activities are still restricted due to the lingering threat of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

It launched several programs that utilize the internet to boost its presence on social media, including the DOT Online Training wherein seminars that usually gathered large crowds were done through video-call apps. Richmond Mercurio, Ghio Ong

BERNADETTE ROMULO-PUYAT PHILIPPINE TOURISM
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