The Department of Tourism (DOT) is pulling out all the stops to ensure that health and safety measures are in place in the country’s tourist destinations and to reassure all stakeholders of government support as the industry prepares to slowly reopen.

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat gave this assurance at the Tourism Congress of the Philippines (TCP) in the wake of President Rodrigo Duterte’s call on Filipinos to help boost the economy by traveling locally during his State-of-the-Nation Address (SONA).

“The DOT continues to outline plans of action and protocols at every tourist site in the country.”

“The DOT continues to outline plans of action and protocols at every tourist site in the country, particularly, the premier destinations of Palawan, Boracay, Bohol, Davao, and Baguio City,” Romulo-Puyat said.

The tourism chief detailed the efforts taken by the DOT in a letter to TCP president Jose Clemente III. The TCP is a private organization of tourism stakeholders created by law to partner with the DOT in the promotion of tourism in the country.

The Transforming Communities towards Resilient, Inclusive, and Sustainable Destinations (TouRIST), the tourism head’s flagship project in partnership with the Asian Development Bank (ADB), will restore three key tourism sites and provide technical assistance for emergency health services in El Nido, Palawan.

Coron, on the other hand, will benefit from the DOT-ADB collaboration with the restoration of four tourism sites, drainage improvements, social enterprise support and livelihood development, and most importantly, technical assistance.

“Phase one of the ADB loan program will cost $50 million in time for implementation early next year.”

“Phase one of the ADB loan program will cost $50 million in time for implementation early next year,” she said.

Bohol, another prime destination under the TouRIST program, is expected to receive a $62-million funding from the World Bank by the first quarter of 2021, Romulo-Puyat said.

The amount will fund local economic development initiatives like the Assistance to Reinvigorate Tourism (ART) Value Chain, the Palengke Program, and tourism sites enhancement and management and enhancement of hygiene preparedness in tourist sites.

Both the World Bank and ADB will provide loans and technical assistance to develop and manage the tourist destinations in a sustainable, resilient, and inclusive manner. The TouRist project will also provide assistance to the islands of Siargao and Siquijor.

Siargao will be assisted with hygiene preparedness of tourist sites, among others, while solar-powered street lights will be funded for the SAFER Siquijor Project.

Meanwhile, she noted the turnover of essential medical equipment to ensure the the readiness of Boracay Island to handle COVID-related concerns.

Similar to the efforts exerted in Boracay, the DOT is actively coordinating with the private sector for the turnover of RT-PCR machines and an RNA extractor to the Davao LGU. This will be used in the COVID-19 Laboratory at the Francisco Bangoy International Airport.

For Baguio City, the DOT, through its attached agency, the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB), will allocate P7.2 million to fund five rebranding projects, including the Visitors Management System Application- a multi-platform digital system that will manage and monitor tourist arrivals in the city and promote “new normal” protocols and practices.

Romulo-Puyat noted the release of various new normal guidelines by the DOT.

“We can never be too prepared and ready for the slow but sure tourism restart. Health and safety still remain the utmost priority, not just of the tourists and tourism workers, but also of the locals at every destination,” she said.

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