With restricted movement by land, air, and sea among the measures imposed to combat COVID-19 in the Philippines, there’s no arguing that the tourism sector is one of the hardest-hit by the pandemic. Livelihoods and businesses that rely on tourists have basically been in limbo for the past two months.
Now that the government is slowly easing restrictions on movement, the Department of Tourism (DOT) is encouraging Filipinos to prioritize domestic travel ahead of trips outside the country. This is to help livelihoods and businesses that rely on tourists, which have basically been in limbo the past two months, bounce back.
“Ang mag-iinitiate ng movement dito domestic tourists,” tourism undersecretary Benito Bengzon said in a public briefing aired by the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO).
"Mag-uumpisa 'yan mga domestic travel, medyo mga short distance muna siguro by land lang muna. And then siguro 'yung mga kasama mo 'yung pamilya mo or at least 'yung mga kabisado mo ang travel history," Bengzon predicts.
“Siguro ito na rin ang isa nating kailangan iappeal sa ating mga kababayan na once we’re given that green light, unahin natin ang domestic tourism para matulungan natin yung mga restaurants, mga resorts na nagsara at walang revenue for the last month and a half,” he added.
No doubt many of us are itching to get back behind the wheel and hit the open road out of town, but Bengzon also stressed it will be important to keep the “new normal” in mind—this being social distancing and other necessary health precautions—once we’re finally allowed to move around again.
The enhanced community quarantine period is scheduled to be lifted in Metro Manila come May 15, 2020, and there’s still no telling if authorities will be able to stick to this schedule or how long the capital will be placed under a general community quarantine period afterward. Here’s hoping things get back to normal sooner rather than later.
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