DOT chief backs Siquijor’s tourism reopening

Sec. Bernadette Romulo Puyat during her dialogue with the Siquijor LGU officials and tourism stakeholders. (rac/PIA7-Siquijor)

SIQUIJOR, March 3 (PIA) -- As Siquijor province sets to reopen its tourism this month, Department of Tourism Sec. Bernadette Romulo-Puyat pitched her full support to the Governor’s drive to restore business and bring back employment to the tourism sector.

During her dialogue with the local government units (LGUs) and the tourism stakeholders here, Puyat lauded Gov. Zaldy Villa’s eagerness to reopen tourism in the province.

Puyat assured him of the DOT’s full support starting with the streamlining of the travel processes, implementation of the public health and safety protocols, tourism product development and promotion, assistance to the affected sectors, and funding of infrasructure among other projects.

“I am happy na magbubukas na kayo (that you will open). That’s good news,” Puyat said, noting that the Siquijor tourism industry has so much potential and more room to grow and develop.

She said many of her friends want to travel to Siquijor after being confined to their homes for several months doing work from home, modular and online classes that affect the physical, psychological, and mental wellbeing. 

“Natutuwa ako sa (I am happy of the) Healing Island," she said, as she called it timely on what they term as  “revenge tourism.”

“Ito ang kailangan natin (This is what we need) as a nation. We have to heal,” the secretary said citing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the tourism sector.

While on the island, Tourism Sec. Bernadette Puyat visited the 400-year old Balete Tree where tourists can dip their feet and get instant foot spa with the helpf of the "fish doctors." (Photo from Sec. Puyat's Facebook page)

Puyat said that as the DOT bids to fully reopen Siquijor's tourism industry and revitalize this sector, it continues to seek regular discussions with provincial and local government leaders and stakeholders, gaining insight into their preparedness to reopen as well as a deeper understanding of how it can best help industry stakeholders and citizens of the communities.

“This meeting is not about me telling you what we can give. Nandito ako para makinig, maraming salamat na magbubukas na kayo. (I am here to listen, thank you that you are finally opening). I am excited na magbukas na ang Siquijor (that Siquijor will open). Please tell us how we can help," Puyat said during the dialogue.

Meanwhile, the DOT secretary announced that through its regional office, the department has been extending assistance to displaced tourism workers in Central Visayas in partnership with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) under the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act or Bayanihan 2.

As of Feb. 19, DOT-7 has endorsed a total of 696 tourism enterprises, tour guide associations/individuals and community based-tourism associations with 24,588 beneficiaries.

Forty of those tourism enterprises, community based-tourism and associations/individuals are from Siquijor province endorsed by the regional office.

A total of 1,763 tourism enterprises, tour guide associations/individuals and community based-tourism associations were approved and has already been remitted by DOLE Region 7 with 13,367 individual beneficiaries amounting to P66,835,000.59 of those approved tourism enterprises, community based-tourism and associations/individuals are from Siquijor.

She said that areas of collaboration between the department and the public and private sectors consist of promotional branding campaigns, funding of the digital version of the province’s Healing Festival, the continuous implementation of public health and safety protocols, development of tourism products, and enhancement of tourism circuits featuring farm, dive, and ecotourism, among others.

Puyat added that ongoing endeavors to gear up Siquijor’s opening include conduct of physical inspections on accommodation establishments (AEs) and tourism enterprises.

As of Feb. 15, a total of 962 AEs have been accredited in the region,  of which 37 are in Siquijor.

Meanwhile, following Puyat's visit, the Siquijor governor in consultation with the Provincial Task Force COVID-19 announced his intention to open Siquijor Tourism on March 8 while setting in place local health protocols and travel guidelines in accordance with the National Interagency Task Force (IATF-MEID) Resolution No. 101 dated Feb. 26 that approves the uniform travel protocols for land, air, and sea as crafted  by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), in coordination with the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines, League of Provinces of the Philippiunes, League of Municiopalities of the Philippines, and the League of Cities of the Philippines with the following provisions:

  • Minimum public heath standards, such as physical distancing, hand hygiene, cough etiquette, and wearing of face masks and face shields shall continue to be strictly implemented by authorities across all settings.
  • Clinical and exposure assessment to be strictly implemented in all ports of entry and exit while health assessment of passengers, supervised by medical doctors, will be mandatory upon entry in the port or terminal and exit at point of destination.
  • Travelers will no longer be required to undergo COVID-19 testing except if the LGU of destination shall require testing prior to travel.
  • Testing for COVID-19 will be limited to RT-PCR tests.
  • Travellers will no longer have to undergo quarantine unless an individual shows symnptoms upon arrival at the LGU of destination.
  • Travel authority issued by the Joint Task Force COVID Shield and health certificates will no longer be required.
  • Authorized persons outside of residence (APORS) from national govenment agencies and their attached agencies must provide their ID, travel order, travel itinerary, and must also pass symptom-screening at ports of entry and exit.

Another executive order will be issued by the Governor in support to the IATF-MEID Resolution No. 101, highlighting the necessary health protocols of the province.

“I am committed to bring economic recovery and safety of the people. I therefore ask the support and cooperation of the stakeholders,” Villa said. (rac/PIA7-Siquijor)

Source: Philippines Information Agency (

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