The tourism sector is bent on taking the lead in the safe reopening of the economy as the country’s top tourist destinations Boracay and Baguio have secured the approval to accept tourists starting October 1.
Tourism Secretary Bernadette Puyat said the Boracay inter-agency task force approved the reopening of the island to more tourists, including those from areas under general community quarantine, following a meeting with Aklan Governor Joeben Miraflores. This recommendation will be presented to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.
“Targeting a safe and calibrated resumption of tourism, several measures have been prescribed by the task force that includes test before travel and requiring a negative RT-PCR result 48 to 72 hours prior to travel to Boracay,” Puyat said. Additionally, travelers are advised to go on quarantine immediately after being tested, until the date of travel, to preserve the integrity of the negative result.
Boracay was reopened to tourists from Western Visayas in June, including travelers below 21 and above 60 years old. Expanding its market to areas under GCQ, as long as the proper protocols are followed, should boost the island’s economy and benefit its residents whose livelihoods are almost fully dependent on tourism.
When the United Nations World Tourism Organization designated 2020 as the Year of Tourism and Rural Development, it estimated that 80 percent of people living in extreme poverty worldwide are in rural communities. The lack of opportunities in those areas have fueled urban migration which, in turn, aggravates rural underdevelopment.
Tourism provides meaningful jobs and livelihood in remote areas, and can promote sustainable and inclusive economic growth, making the revival of the industry, especially in rural areas, critical if eventual recovery is to be achieved.
The tourism sector and affected communities have to do all they can to restart the industry despite the massive challenges during these times when only the most diehard of tourists are willing to take the risks and deal with the inconveniences of traveling in a country that continues struggling to control a pandemic even after six long months of quarantines.
The Department of Tourism and the local government units involved must work together to come up with creative solutions and a system that can restart the tourism industry despite the challenges posed by COVID-19 because this country that has been stagnant while waiting for a vaccine needs more determination and solutions coming from diverse sectors that are willing to do more than the usual for the sake of the Filipino people.*