NorMin prepares to reopen tourism industry

NorMin prepares to reopen tourism industry

Camiguin Lanzones Festival (File photo)

MANILA – Northern Mindanao has been gearing up to reopen the region’s tourism industry to local tourists amid the prevailing coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

Department of Tourism (DOT) Northern Mindanao Director May Salvaña-Unchuan emphasized the importance of complying with minimum health standards before tourism establishments are allowed to reopen.

“Sa buong region, ang mga [local government units] din, mahigpit na pinapatupad ang minimum health standards (In the entire region, even in the LGUs, they are implementing minimum health standards),” she said during an episode of CORDS-10 podcast on Saturday.

She said observing minimum health protocols would ensure not only the safety of tourists, but also of employees.

“In order for us to rise up, we need to comply with the minimum health standards so that everybody will be safe,” she said.

However, she also admitted that the biggest challenge lies in restoring tourists’ confidence in travel as Covid-19 cases continue to increase.

“Hindi natin maalis na matakot na mag-travel ang mga tao (We cannot prevent people from being afraid to travel). But by showing them that all of these establishments have been complying with the new normal, nakita naman nila kung bakit, ano talaga ang cause nito (showing them why, what’s the cause). Okay, maybe we can venture out in the places where people are really implementing these in the establishments,” she said.

To address this, she said Northern Mindanao has started creating video content on how tourism establishments are preparing for the new normal.

“I think it’s building the confidence of our tourists to make their plans and travel again. Still even with the pandemic we’ve been busy trying to show our beautiful sites and campaigning for our travel tomorrow. You know, let’s travel when it’s safe already,” she said.

According to Salvaña-Unchuan, Northern Mindanao is paying special attention to “special tourism projects” amid plans to reinvigorate the tourism industry when the Covid-19 situation improves.

One of these projects is hot air balloon and aerial display tourism in Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon, which was supposed to kick off last May, but was postponed to next year.

Misamis Occidental, she said, offers a two-hour river cruise with different stops.

Faith tourism is also being beefed up with pilgrimage tours in heritage sites, she added.

As for dive tourism, she said Camiguin is the number one dive tourism site in Northern Mindanao, followed by Misamis Oriental.

While the health crisis has severely affected the tourism industry, Salvaña-Unchuan expressed hope that local governments will continue to show local tourists that “it’s okay to travel” as long as health and safety precautions are observed.

“When they see that the establishments are also conforming, then I think later on when the restrictions are lifted, people will actually venture out,” she said. (PNA)

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