MANILA - Local travel should be the catalyst for restarting Philippine tourism, an official said Wednesday, as the government moves to revive the industry dragged down by the coronavirus pandemic.
The Department of Tourism is already looking at possible local destinations that can be opened, its Undersecretary Arturo Boncato said, as he noted that reviving the industry will largely depend on the public's trust and confidence on travel.
"Domestic tourism should be the catalyst of restarting the industry all over the Philippines," he said in a forum ahead of President Rodrigo Duterte's penultimate State of the Nation Address this month.
"The future of tourism will depend largely on the trust and confidence of our markets and that is really enshrined in the tourism response and recovery program," he added.
Boncato added that the tourism department's priority, for now, is to address the urgent needs of the industry's stakeholders as more parts of the country were allowed to conduct tourism activities.
"The role of LGUs (local government units) is really crucial as to the time of reopening of destinations," he said.
Earlier, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said the government is eyeing the adoption of travel bubbles that would allow international tourists from virus-free countries to visit select tourist spots in the Philippines that have only a few cases of the virus.
Among the destinations being considered for travel bubbles are Bohol, Boracay, and Palawan, since these have low cases of COVID-19.
Tourism worldwide was badly-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic after governments sought to limit movement among people to prevent the spread of the virus.
As a result, the industry was forced to cut jobs, particularly among airlines and travel agencies.