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Tourism boost?

The Department of Tourism lauded President Duterte’s support in the promotion of local travel in his fifth State of the Nation Address, where he urged Filipinos to help boost the economy by travelling locally once the necessary system is in place.

“This is a very encouraging development knowing that the DOT has the President’s full support as we further our plans to spur the recovery of the industry through the promotion of local travel,” Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said.

Tourism is a key driver of the Philippine economy, contributing 12.7 percent to the country’s gross domestic product in 2019. It also contributed a 13.5 percent share of the country’s total employment at 5.7 million.

The tourism chief has already initiated talks with various local government units to facilitate the safe and gradual reopening of domestic tourism destinations.

“In reopening domestic tourism, the DOT shall continue to engage the national government agencies, LGUs, and stakeholders to ensure the safety of visitors and communities, and more importantly, in heeding the President’s call to keep tourism destinations and sites sustainable in the process,” Puyat said.

While travel for leisure purposes is allowed in areas under modified general community quarantine, many local government units around the country remain hesitant in reopening their destinations for tourism, stating that they are targeting to reopen their respective tourism industries in a slow but sure approach to ensure the health and safety of both their community and their visitors.

If local tourism is going to be a government priority, we hope that the DOT and other national government agencies can put a foolproof system in place to protect the target communities and the visiting tourists, especially as the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic remains in full swing in most parts of the country. The economy needs the boost but anything that comes at the cost of further debilitating lockdowns and quarantines needs to be studied comprehensively and the requisite protocols and protections need to be fully in place before any attempt to restart any industry, no matter how critical it may be to our economy.*

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