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BONTOC, Mountain Province – The provincial government underscored that the proposed gradual and safe opening of the local tourism industry remains uncertain because of the sudden increase in the number of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases in the different parts of the province over the past several weeks.
Gov. Bonifacio C. Lacwasan, Jr. stated that even the Sagada municipal government that planned for the possible opening of the town’s tourism industry by the end of the month decided to forego the said plan because of the sudden increase in the number of COVID-19 cases not only in the province but also in the different parts of the country.
He added that the provincial government continues to consult the different municipal governments on how to handle the situation and it was decided that the proposed opening of the local tourism industry will have to be seriously studied to prevent further surges in COVID-19 cases that could heavily impact on the existing health care system and the frontliners.
The governor claimed that no municipality will be allowed to open its tourism industry for tourism-related activities without the approval of the provincial inter-agency task force for the management of emerging infectious diseases to ensure that the situation will be under control and that anything that can cause the further surge in cases could be avoided right from the start.
While tourism in one of the province’s major economic drivers, Lacwasan explained that COVID-19 cases in the province are mostly the returning locally stranded individuals and returning overseas Filipino workers, thus, the need to further prevent the increase in the said cases by avoiding travelers to be frequenting the different tourist destinations to prevent the further spread of the virus in the said communities.
According to him, the province’s tourism industry had been heavily impacted by the various levels of community quarantine in the different parts of the country over the past 18 months just to ensure that the deadly virus will not cause the collapse of the country’s health care system and unduly stress the frontliners that is why tourism industry stakeholders are looking for possible ways on how to ensure the gradual and safe revival of the said industry purposely to allow the local economy to start recovering.
Lacwasan expressed hope that the local tourism industry stakeholders will understand the decision of the provincial inter-agency task force to defer for the meantime the gradual and safe opening of the local tourism industry because of the continuous threat of the virus, especially with the emergence of the more infectious Delta variant.
He emphasized that the provincial government continues to study all available options on how to help revive the local economy to allow people to get back to work and earn their sustenance but such effort is restrained by the unseen enemy which poses a serious threat to the health and safety of the populace.
The local chief executive asserted that the people of the province are resilient and they will be able to find ways on how to go back to normalcy once the opportunities are available and when the country shall have achieved the desired her immunity through the ongoing vaccination. By HENT