DOT to arrange sweeper flights for stranded domestic tourists

The Department of Tourism (DOT) is hoping to make sweeper flights for stranded domestic tourists within this week.

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat said in an interview on Dobol B in News TV Tuesday said DOT had identified 2,267 stranded domestic tourists, as of April 26.

The Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) earlier announced that they granted the DOT’s request to conduct sweeper flights to bring stranded Filipino tourists from the regions to Metro Manila.

“Kahapon, hiniling namin sa IATF kung puwedeng iuwi na namin ang ating mga stranded domestic tourists kasi naaawa na kami… I hope starting this week magkaroon na kami ng mga [flights],” Puyat said.

(Yesterday, we asked the IATF if we could bring our stranded domestic tourists back because we feel sorry for them. I hope starting this week, we will have [flights].)

Before this, the coordinated sweeper flights for stranded foreign tourists amid the imposed lockdowns to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

The sweeper flights would also accommodate stranded interns of tourism establishments and workers.

DOT secretary said they have already requested quotations for the cost of the flights from Cebu Pacific, Philippine Airlines, and AirAsia.

Puyat’s son, Vito, is stranded in Palawan.

“Kung ikaw ay stranded domestic tourist, ang gagawin mo ay kailangan mo ipakita ‘yung copy ng return flight mo or boat ticket,” Puyat said.

(If you a stranded domestic tourist, all you need to do is present the copy of your return flight or boat ticket.)

Stranded domestic tourists may contact the DOT hotline 0998 592 5827.

She explained DOT was not able to immediately arrange sweeper flights for domestic tourists due to restrictions imposed by several local units.

“‘Yung mga iba (LGUs), ayaw nilang pauwiin ‘yung kanilang sariling mga kababayan, nagka-praning-an,” Puyat explained.

Meanwhile, former DOT Secretary Ramon “Mon” Jimenez Jr. has passed away at the age of 64.

“Today, we mourn the loss of Mon Jimenez, but we will be forever grateful to him for the growth of the tourism sector and for promoting the Philippines as a place that is wonderful, joyous, and fun,” Puyat said.

Jimenez was the man behind the country’s famed “It’s More Fun in the Philippines” tourism campaign.