NAVAL, Biliran, May 5 (PIA) — “With the growing needs to reopen tourism businesses and bring back jobs and livelihood, it is important that our main agenda is to pave way for a responsible tourism restart,” said Regional Director Karina Rosa S. Tiopes of the Department of Tourism in Eastern Visayas (DOT-8) during the reopening of Sambawan Beach Resort in Maripipi, Biliran on April 23.
Tiopes recalled in her audio message facilitated by Verna Vargas Glass, DOT-8 senior tourism operations officer, that in the summer of 2019, Sambawan was in the bucket list of many local and domestic tourists, where they came for day trips and overnight stays, enjoying the fresh sea breeze, refreshing themselves with a swim, climbing up the hill and standing on top of boulders, to have that Instagrammable pictures that made family and friends want to head off to Biliran, and cross to Sambawan.
The DOT-8 chief also recalled that the tourism industry was badly hit by the Covid-19 pandemic starting in March 2020, where it changed lifestyle of the people, has caused economy to suffer causing closure of businesses, loss of jobs and means of livelihood.
She informed that before the end of 2020, DOT Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat initiated the conduct of a visitor’s survey to get the sentiments of the domestic travel market on the new normal of travel where it served as DOT’s inputs and strategies to jumpstart tourism industry.
According to Tiopes, the DOT survey result showed that people want to travel again to keep their sanity and further saying in vernacular that “ginkapoy na kita pag-inukoy ha aton mga balay, ang feeling sa kadaghanan mabuang na gyud sila kay dili man sila kapanuroy.”
She added that the survey showed that travel behavior and preferences of Filipinos also changed as they adapted to the new normal; prefer outdoor activities in well ventilated areas with safety as main reason; wants to travel in bubbles where this new trend opens new opportunity, introduce new product and services; they wanted travel to be simplified, where they wanted to visit tourism destination with most relax health protocol; they personally preferred trips with personalized, tailored-fit in accordance to what they needed and purpose of their travel; and to have travel protocol across the country, and in all destinations in the country.
“Maripipi is in the right track with the reopening of Sambawan island,” Tiopes said and further suggesting the LGU to have a closer look at other natural attractions and planned for the development of interesting and interactive tourism activities that can be done in the outdoors, or open spaces.
Sec. Puyat also reminds us all that the recommended safety protocols should remain in place and be strictly and complied with, the DOT-8 chief added.
She reminded tourists to practice self-discipline and take on some degree of responsibility by consciously following protocols and guidelines; those who operate tourism site or tourism enterprise to make sure that the protocols are in place and it should be strictly and consistently implemented; and for LGUs to strictly implement public health protocols and guidelines on the resumption of local and domestic tourism in their respective areas.
Tiopes also assured the commitment to assist LGUs, our private sectors, their partners, community-based tourism organizations, and the local communities, as it takes towards a responsible tourism restart. (ldl/rsv/Ana Marie F. Kaagbay/PIA Biliran)