DOT confident on reopening of economy despite new variants

Despite the recorded cases of the allegedly more contagious coronavirus variant, tourism in the country can still continue as long as tourists follow the minimum health protocols, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said Wednesday.

“It’s has been proven. Magwa-one year na tayo sa COVID-19. As long as open air, well-ventilated, and [may] minimum health safety protocols… we can restart tourism,” said Puyat at an event for tourism workers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

For now, local government units (LGUs) can open their tourism industry in areas under modified general community quarantine.

But it still depends on the LGU whether tourism will be opened and what kind of COVID-19 test will be required for tourists.

“The protocols are really up to the local government unit. Kami naman, we want to reopen tourism safely, with the minimum health and safety protocols. Now, it is the decision of the LGU kung maglalagay sila ng test before travel, whether it is saliva or swab,” said Puyat.

According to a survey by the Department of Tourism, more tourists prefer to travel “by land” than “by air” to avoid infection with COVID-19, which has now infected more than 600,000 in the country.

Also read: Bulacan records 3 cases of new variants of COVID-19

DOT confident on reopening of economy despite new variants

It is said that nature tourism is also popular today.

According to Puyat, they are in favor of implementing a passport — which will tell if a person has been vaccinated against COVID-19 — for local and international travelers.

“Anything that will promote ease of travel restrictions, we are all for it. A lot of abroad are saying that [they] would only accept passengers who are vaccinated,” said Puyat.

In recent days the Department of Health and OCTA Research Group has observed an increase in COVID-19 cases in several areas in the country, including the National Capital Region. One of the reported cases is the United Kingdom and South African variants of the coronavirus.

Due to the increase in cases, LGUs have intensified the implementation of the health protocol in their jurisdictions.