The local governments of the Bicol Region and the Department of Tourism (DOT) are ready to resume leisure activities as more establishments opened their doors to tourists as quarantine restrictions gradually eased.
“We are already 100 percent when it comes to local tourism activities but we reminded local governments to strictly observe the health protocols and hygiene measures at all times in order to curb the possible spread of COVID-19,” Fe Buela, the DOT regional director, said.
According to Buela, 547 of 900 tourism-related establishments in the region, representing 73 percent, are now open to cater to travelers.
As the coronavirus pandemic forced the government to restrict travel and implement community lockdowns last year, the tourism industry in the Bicol suffered more than P7 billion losses, an official of the DOT said.
From the 3.5 million visitors in 2019, the tourist arrivals in the region last year dropped by 81 percent, or just 600,000 tourists, leading to losses reaching P7.2 billion.
To prepare for the arrival of tourists, especially this summer, the DOT thought of a “tourism circuit development program” for Bicol, she said.
“Site Assessment and validation are continuously being conducted so that we could offer very good valuable products and best sites for tourists,” Buela said.
To highlight economic opportunities for local governments within the same destinations, under the proposed “tourism circuit” for the region, two or more adjacent sites or attractions will be grouped.
One of the major considerations included the readiness of the facilities to accept travelers and the availability of health and safety protocols. This also involves the identification of priority sites that are tourist-ready based on attractiveness, accessibility, activities offered, and amenities or facilities. Buela continued.
The DOT is also promoting agritourism as a safer form of leisure activity due to the use of open spaces. Visiting farms and other agritourism sites is “relaxing and a perfect stress buster now that we are still in [the middle of the] pandemic,” Buela said.