DOT: Philippines 'still safe' amid coronavirus scare, Taal unrest
Rosette Adel ( - January 24, 2020 - 8:11pm

MANILA, Philippines (Update 2, 8:20 p.m.) — Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat on Friday assured international tourists that the Philippines is still a “generally safe place” despite scares of novel coronavirus or 2019-nCoV and the Taal Volcano unrest.

“It’s still very safe. Again, we will not allow the tourists to come if we thought that they are in danger,” Puyat said.

The Department of Tourism earlier released a statement, acknowledging that the tourism industry in Tagaytay City “has suffered tremendous setback” following the eruption of Taal Volcano.

Puyat said Tagaytay tourism is the main occupation in the area but she said the agency prioritizes the advice of concerned agencies like the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology.

The Tourism chief said her department has already started assessing the areas affected by the Taal Volcano eruption and its impact on tourism industry. They committed to help in reviving Tagaytay City while coordinating with the National Economic Development Authority.

“When Phivolcs declares the area as already safe, only then will we commence with the revival plans of Taal together with NEDA,” she said.

Phivolcs earlier said areas within the 14-kilometer radius of Taal are high risk zones after placing these under Alert Level 4.

Meanwhile, amid the threats of severe acute respiratory-like virus in the country, the Civil Aeronautics Board said it would suspend all flights to and from the central Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicenter of a new virus outbreak that has claimed 17 lives.

The Department of Health clarified there is no confirmed case of the 2019-nCoV in the country as it awaits results of the confirmatory test sent to Australia on the specimen taken from a five-year-old boy from Wuhan.

Despite these threats, the Tourism chief said she is not bothered by the looming tourism loss.

 “I want the tourist to know that we want everybody who comes in the Philippines to be safe – safe from virus, safe from any calamities,” Puyat said.

“So number one is always the safety of our tourists. Ano ba naman ang numbers kung maaagrabyado ang turista?” she concluded.

(So number one is always the safety of our tourists. What are the numbers if the tourists would be harmed?)

Puyat also said there are other tourist destinations such as Boracay, Cebu, Davao del Sur and Intramuros in Manila.

Boracay, Cebu and Davao del Sur are the top three destinations, according to the record of regional distribution of overnight travelers in accommodation establishments as of Dec. 2 2019.

Boracay garnered 1.6 million record of overnight travelers.

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