The city temporarily suspended accepting tourists from the National Capital Region (NCR) and the provinces of Bulacan, Rizal, Cavite and Laguna from March 22 to April 4, 2021 as part of the prevailing restrictions to help in containing the spread of the dreaded Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) not only in the city but also in other parts of the country.
Mayor Benjamin B. Magalong stated that the implementation of the aforesaid restriction will have a significant impact on the city’s tourist arrivals because 70 percent of the city’s visitors come from the said places.
He added that tourists from the NCR bubble plus wanting to visit the city and whose scheduled visit had been affected by the implementation of the temporary suspension will have to rebook their visit to later dates after April 4, 2021.
However, the mayor clarified that the city will still be accepting essential travels from the NCR plus bubble, provided that, they possess the required negative swab test or antigen test results and for them to be subjected to the city’s triaging procedures.
Earlier, the inter-agency task force for the management of emerging infectious diseases issued a ban on non-essential travels from the NCR plus bubble following the recent surge in the number of COVID cases in the country over the past several days.
Subsequently, the city also decided to limit the number of tourist arrivals to 3,000 daily and re-imposed the requirement for visitors and frequent travelers to present their negative swab or antigen test results prior to entering the city as part of the ongoing measures to contain the surge in the number of COVID cases to avoid the local health care system from being compromised and frontliners from being stressed.
While it is true that temporarily suspending the arrival of tourists from the NCR plus bubble will have a negative impact to the projected number of tourists arrivals in the city, the mayor pointed out that it is still one of the available options to be undertaken to help control the surge in COVID cases as the city’s critical care utilization rate is now in the warning stage.
Last week, there was an instance when the city’s tourist arrivals drastically increased to over 6,000 in a single day that caused congestion at the city’s central triage which prompted city officials and health authorities to propose the re-imposition of the limitation on the number of tourist arrivals daily to avoid similar problems in the future.
On October 1, 2020, the city started accepting tourists from the Ilocos Region under the Ridge to Reef tourism bubble before expanding the same to tourists from Luzon on October 22, 2020.
The city then started to gradually increase the number of visitors to visit the city daily until it reached as high as over 6,000 in a single day last week that caused city officials to impose control mechanisms to avoid the further spread of the virus in the city.
Magalong asserted the need to strike a balance between health and economy because people have to get back their jobs and allow the safe resumption of economic activities for them to sustain their families. By Dexter A. See