DOT: Tourists prefer open areas during pandemic

BAGAC, Bataan – Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said more tourists prefer to visit tourist spots with open spaces and those with safety and health protocols in place during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We made a survey and 77% want to travel even without the Covid-19 vaccine yet but they want to go to areas with open air in small groups and with known health and safety protocols,” Puyat told media in a recent interview.

She said Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar, a well-known theme park in this  Bataan town is an example of destinations preferred by more people, and has sought the permission of Las Casas owner Jerry Acuzar and Bataan Governor Albert Garcia for its inclusion in a book being prepared by DOT.

“People are not just looking for open air; they want to be able to go by land travel and go around within the area,” she said, noting that people are getting tired of staying indoors because of the community quarantine and now want to go out to see new sceneries.

“People are very tired of staying at home. They are looking for other scenery, so we hope that aside from Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar and Mt. Samat, there are other places to go to,” she said.

Mt. Samat in Pilar town is the site of the Shrine of Valor built in memory of the bravery and valor of Filipino and American soldiers during World War II.

Puyat said there are a few other tourist spots that have reopened in this province but she hoped that more will resume operation. “Of course, we have to work with Governor Albert Garcia because he knows the cases in Bataan,” she added,

Puyat said LGU leaders remain reluctant to open resorts in their areas because they are afraid visitors might bring in the Covid-19 virus. She said she took a reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test before going to Bataan.

The Tourism chief noted that about 4.7 million people in the industry have been affected by the pandemic. “We want tourism back slowly but surely, so people could work, but with the consent of the LGUs,” she said.

Puyat was welcomed by Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar executives and some LGU officials led by Dinalupihan Mayor Maria Angela Garcia, president of the Bataan League of Municipalities.

Gov. Garcia said via Zoom that the Provincial Tourism Office is coordinating with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to avail of a zero-interest loan that owners of tourist sites in the province could use to reopen their businesses.

Garcia thanked Puyat for helping Bataan in its tourism programs. He assured they are strict and extra careful in reopening tourist sites in the province “to protect our citizens from the threat of Covid-19.” 

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