Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat wants the Baguio-Ilocos tourism corridor to be duplicated in other similarly situated tourist destinations in the country to help in gradually, cautiously and safely opening the industry as part of the efforts to revive the heavily battered economy.
Secretary Puyat, who served as the guest of honor and speaker during the launching of the Ridge and Reef Baguio-Ilocos tours, held at the Baguio Convention Center (BCC) Tuesday, disclosed that aside from Baguio and Region I, Western Visayas that includes Boracay, Negros and Iloilo already eased up on their tourism industry for their residents to allow the economy in the said region to recover.
She added tourism officials will also visit Bohol to look into the possibility of opening the tourism industry in the area while efforts are being done to coordinate with different tourist destinations in Mindanao for them to learn from the best practices in the opening of tourism in other parts of the country as tourism is one of the identified economic drivers.
The tourism official pointed out that the gains of the country’s tourism industry last year where there were more than 8 million foreign tourist arrivals and over 110 million domestic travels were practically wiped out by the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, but the industry should start somewhere to help bring back the vibrance of the economy, especially in places where tourism serves as the major source of income and livelihood for the people.
According to her, the decision of local officials and tourism industry stakeholders in Baguio and the Ilocos Region to establish a travel corridor that will jumpstart the opening of the tourism industry in the north will definitely serve as a model for other similarly situated areas in the country to give a semblance of economic activities to help in moving the badly hit economy to recover for the benefit of the heavily impacted workers.
Secretary Puyat lauded the effort of the involved local governments in the tourism bubble to put up a unified registration system and unified guidelines governing the opening of the tourism industry as it will form part of the new normal where contactless and seamless travel is encouraged to prevent the possible spread of the deadly virus and to ensure the protection of the people from the possible transmission of the virus that could compromise the health care system of a certain destination.
Initially, Baguio City and Ilocos Norte will start accepting the entry of tourists from Region I on October 1, 2020.
On the other hand, Pangasinan, La Union and Ilocos Sur will be opening their tourist destinations for interested visitors from the corridor by the middle of October or as soon as the unified guidelines and registration platform shall have been rolled out.
Secretary Puyat assured residents in the areas of the tourism bubble that their health and safety had been considered in the preparations for the opening of the tourism industry that is why the guidelines are so strict because the overarching agenda is to strike a balance between the health of the people and provide employment and sources of livelihood to the impacted individuals. By Dexter A. See