DOT chief says delayed intl tourism reopening a 'small hiccup,' continues push for local travel

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 1) — Even with recent moves of the country’s pandemic task force to temporarily tighten border restrictions, the Department of Tourism is keeping its hopes high for the industry’s recovery.

“Of course, this is a small hiccup in our plans for fully reopening tourism,” DOT Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said during Wednesday’s Kapihan sa Manila Bay forum, while also citing the measures they are currently focusing on.

Among them is the COVID-19 vaccination of tourism workers — with 77% of them already inoculated against the virus as of Nov. 26 — which Puyat said is being done along with the national government’s overall goal of vaccinating the general public.

“We hope to continue the trend of increasing domestic traffic in most of our destinations,” said the Cabinet official, adding the agency has been “actively pursuing the diversification of tourism products and destinations” according to travelers’ present preferences.

The DOT chief likewise expressed confidence on vaccination protecting local travelers amid the threat of the new, possibly more transmissible Omicron variant.

"I'm actually very confident about vaccination. As long as you're fully vaccinated and you follow minimum public health protocols,” she said instead when asked if she would recommend stricter protocols on domestic travel in light of the new variant. She stressed that tourists must not exhibit symptoms when travelling.

The IATF recently announced the temporary suspension of the resolution allowing the entry of fully vaccinated foreigners hailing from green countries not requiring a visa, along with the quarantine and testing protocols of fully vaccinated individuals from jurisdictions in the green list.