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DOT looks to reopen El Nido, Coron, San Vicente for domestic tourism

The Department of Tourism is looking to bring back domestic tourism in El Nido, Coron and San Vicente in Palawan in a bid to revive the hard-hit tourism sector amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Interviewed on Dobol B sa News TV, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said she already consulted with the local officials and decided to begin with a dry-run, reopening first in El Nido resorts.

“Pinagusapan namin na since June 1 pa sila (Palawan) modified general community quarantine pero ayaw pa nila magbukas. Pinag-agreehan namin is puwedeng magbukas ang El Nido pero one establishment muna,” she said.

“Gusto nila i-dry-run kasi ang El Nido. Zero ang COVID… so you can imagine zero COVID so siyempre kinakabahan sila at natatakot sila na baka kung mag-accept sila from the outside, magka-COVID sila,” Puyat said. “So ang gagawin namin, dry-run muna sa isang establishment pero bago makapasok, kailangan naka-swab test.”

Puyat added that Palawan already lost some P3.1 billion in tourism revenue due to the health crisis.

Some 14,000 hotel workers in El Nido, Coron and San Vicente also lost their jobs amid the pandemic, she said.

With this, Puyat said the DOT and the local government is aiming for a “slow but sure” reopening in the three tourist spots.

“Wala nang other means (ang Palawan), tourism kasi talaga eh so importanteng kausapin ang LGU, mga mayors at governor and tignan natin kung  paano natin ibubukas pero siyempre slow but sure. ‘Yong hinay-hinay lang tayo,” she said.

Last June 16, Boracay, one of the country’s top tourist destinations, was allowed to resume operations to Western Visayas residents in a bid to restart the economy.

The Philippines has 44,254 COVID-19 cases as of July 5. — Ma. Angelica Garcia/LA, GMA News