IF all goes well, the tourism sector in Bohol may gradually reopen in July as the government has given priority to helping the province, one of the country’s popular tourist destinations.
Bohol is being eyed as a model for the “new normal” because of its success in curbing cases of the coronavirus disease.
Carlito Galvez Jr., chief implementer of the National Action Plan against the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), visited Bohol on Saturday, May 23, to assess the situation in the area and meet with local officials to draw insights from them.
“Nasa GCQ (general community quarantine) napo kayo (Bohol), bakamapuntana kayo sa MGCQ (modified general community quarantine), ibigsabihinmalapitna kayo sa ‘new normal.’ I believe gagawinnatinang Bohol na model for ‘new normal,’ Galvez said during a news briefing.
Under the guidelines of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease, [a]musement, gaming and fitness establishments as well as those in the kids’ and tourism industries are disallowed in areas under GCQ.
Bohol is known for its beaches, the Chocolate Hills and the Philippine tarsier.
In 2018, more than 1.4 million local and foreign tourists visited the province.
Galvez said the government was focused on reviving tourism-based economies like Bohol, taking into main consideration the public’s health and safety.
“Unanguna, ang [plano] namin is matulunganang Bohol to open up its businesses. Kasi nakitanatinangCovid crisis will stay hangga’twala pang vaccine. So angnakikitanatinnaang primary needs sa Bohol (nakailangangaksyunan) is ‘yung tourism and travel (We want to help Bohol open up its businesses. The Covid crisis will be here until a vaccine has been found. So we plan to address the primary needs of Bohol, especially in tourism and travel),” the official said.
Vince Dizon, NAP deputy chief implementer, said to achieve this goal, the first order of business was to ensure the well-being of residents and tourists.
“The goal is to make Bohol one of the models para sapag-reopen ng tourism saPilipinas (in reopening tourism in the Philippine). And the number one requirement for that to happen is to have a very strong testing capacity in Bohol,” he said.
The NTF officials brought 500 sets of personal protective equipment and a polymerase chain reaction machine that shall be turned over to the Governor CelestinoGallares Memorial Medical Hospital in Tagbilaran City.
Dizon said the government planned to establish a Covid-19 testing laboratory at the Bohol-Panglao International Airport.
“It will be an absolute necessity now for all international airports to have their own laboratory, and Bohol is a top priority because of the strength of the tourist industry in Bohol,” he said.
“Gagawamunatayo ng (we will come up with a) protocol, we will coordinate with the governor, and the DoT, and titingnan din ponatin with DTI (Department of Trade and Industry) and we will determine what businesses can reopen),” Galvez said.
He said there are plans to set up an offshore testing laboratory at seaport, and one for the provincial government to prepare the province for the arrival of tourists and workers.
Galves was optimistic that the tourism industry in the province would open soon.
“We are looking forward namagkaroonmunatayo ng simulation o dry run this coming June. Titingnannatin, and then also maybe July, then mag-oopentayo ng 25 percent, and then 50 percent, and then 75 percent, and then kapagmaganda, then we can open up 100 percent (We can have a simulation or dry run in June. We will see, and then maybe in July, then we can open 25 percent, then 50 percent, and then 75 percent. If all goes well, we will open 100 percent),” Galvez said.
He added that the government would help Bohol set up laboratories.
“We will invest in that,” he said.