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The Department of Tourism (DOT) on Saturday began identifying possible tourism circuits that could be activated under the new normal.

“The various regional offices of the department have identified several tourism circuits that can be activated in light of the new normal. These tourism circuits shall also have both new and re-calibrated tourism products with corresponding health and safety protocols,” the department said in a statement.

The move came after President Rodrigo Duterte approved the gradual resumption of tourism activities in the country.

Similar to the Ridge-to-Reef Corridor plan of Baguio City with the provinces of Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union, and Pangasinan, the DOT said the “tourism circuits” may either be inter-region or inter-province depending on the readiness of the local government units (LGUs) to accept new visitors.

“The DOT will explore similar corridors, circuits, and safe reopening, involving destinations that have low or no cases of COVID-19 with full support from LGUs, tourism private sector, and host communities,” it said.

However, it has yet to disclose specific destinations identified in the plan.

The DOT, meanwhile, said it remains consistent with the President’s direction as it engages with local governments, other national government agencies, and local tourism stakeholders for the gradual reopening of the sector while underscoring strict compliance with health and safety protocols.

Earlier this year, the department rolled out two digital applications, the Safe Pass and Eat-In Express, to help DOT-accredited establishments and restaurants reopen with contactless operations for free.

Through the Tourism Promotions Board, the DOT also funded Baguio City’s Visitor Information and Travel Assistance (V.I.S.I.T.A.), a multi-platform digital monitoring app to help with border control and contact tracing.

“Over tourism is the old normal. 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 said.

Citing domestic tourism as the “backbone” of the industry, the department noted that it looks forward to its resumption by the last quarter of this year and until the first six months of 2021.

“Once border controls are lifted by other countries, the DOT foresees regional international visitors by the second half of 2021,” it added.

Aside from Baguio City, Boracay Island reopened its doors to travelers from Western Visayas last June 16. (PNA)