Department of Tourism (DOT) Sec. Bernadette Romulo-Puyat has assured that her office is ensuring there will be appropriate health measures in place in the country’s tourism hubs and that the government will support the industry stakeholders as they prepare to “slowly reopen”.
State-run Philippine News Agency (PNA) citing a press release said Puyat gave the assurance at the Tourism Congress of the Philippines (TCP) on July 29 following President Rodrigo Duterte’s July 27 state of the nation address (SONA) which called on Filipinos to support domestic traveling to recover the economy.
Puyat said the DOT has started outlining action and protocol plans in every tourist site in the country, including Palawan.
“The DOT continues to outline plans of action and protocols at every tourist site in the country, particularly, the premier destinations of Palawan, Boracay, Bohol, Davao, and Baguio City,” the statement quoted Puyat in saying.
The statement said further that the DOT related the details of the efforts it has undertaken in a letter to TCP president Jose Clemente III. TCP is a tourism stakeholder private organization created to partner with the DOT in promoting the industry in the Philippines.
Puyat’s flagship project Transforming Communities towards Resilient, Inclusive, and Sustainable Destinations or TouRIST in partnership and cooperation with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) will restore key tourism sites and provide technical assistance for emergency health services in El Nido, Palawan, the statement said.
Coron, on the other hand, will benefit from the DOT-ADB collaboration with the restoration of four tourism sites, drainage improvements, social enterprise support and livelihood development, and most importantly, technical assistance.
Phase 1 of the ADB loan program will cost USD50 million in time for implementation early next year, the tourism chief said was further quoted in saying.
Bohol, another prime destination under the TouRIST program, is expected to receive USD62-million funding from the World Bank by the first quarter of 2021, Puyat said.
The amount will fund local economic development initiatives like the Assistance to Reinvigorate Tourism (ART) Value Chain, the Palengke Program, and tourism sites enhancement and management and enhancement of hygiene preparedness in tourist sites.
Both the World Bank and ADB will provide loans and technical assistance to develop and manage the tourist destinations in a sustainable, resilient, and inclusive manner. The TouRist project will also provide assistance to the islands of Siargao and Siquijor.
Siargao will be assisted with hygiene preparedness of tourist sites, among others, while solar-powered street lights will be funded for the SAFER Siquijor Project.
Meanwhile, Puyat noted the turnover of essential medical equipment to ensure the readiness of Boracay Island to handle COVID-related concerns.
Similar to the efforts exerted in Boracay, the DOT is actively coordinating with the private sector for the turnover of RT-PCR Machines and an RNA extractor to the Davao LGU. This will be used in the Covid-19 Laboratory at the Francisco Bangoy International Airport.
For Baguio City, the DOT, through its attached agency, the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB), will allocate PHP7.2 million to fund five rebranding projects, including the Visitors Management System Application- a multi-platform digital system that will manage and monitor tourist arrivals in the city and promote “new normal” protocols and practices.
The tourism chief noted the release of various new normal guidelines by the DOT.
“We can never be too prepared and ready for the slow but sure tourism restart. Health and safety still remain the utmost priority, not just of the tourists and tourism workers, but also of the locals at every destination,” she said.