BACOLOD CITY – The Negros Occidental provincial government is exploring ways to fully reopen domestic tourism while ensuring protection for industry stakeholders amid the continuing threat of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).
This was tackled during the two-day seminar themed, “Negros Tourism: Moving Forward”, attended by tourism officers in all 32 towns and cities of Negros Occidental, including this capital city, at the Negros Residences here until Friday.
Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson said as the province jumpstarts its tourism industry, it is important and urgent to properly balance public health and economic concerns.
“Let us take this opportunity to find effective ways on how to open up our tourism industry without jeopardizing the safety of our tourists and the people in the industry,” Lacson said in his message during the opening day on Thursday.
The governor acknowledged that due to the community quarantines imposed by the government to contain the spread of Covid-19, economies started to slump and hundreds to thousands of Negrenses from the agriculture, construction, trade, and tourism sectors have been gravely affected by the economic impact.
“Now, a year after closures, we are here, opening our province to travelers and tourism, but the most important and urgent concern that we need to correctly and cautiously address, is how to properly balance public health and economic concerns,” he added.
Even as Lacson declared all airports, seaports, and transport terminals open to the public one year into the pandemic, starting March 15, the number of infections in the province continues to rise.
In Negros Occidental, total active cases as of March 18 have reached 232, from only 63 a month ago, or on February 18, data from the Provincial Incident Management Team showed.
Seminar discussions focused on the Revised Negros Occidental Tourism Code, Bayanihan to Recover as One Act specifically the Department of Tourism-Department of Labor and Employment financial assistance for displaced workers in the tourism industry, updates on the province’s tourism industry, and tourism promotion initiatives of various local government units.
Topics on the Safe Space Act, Relevance of Culture and Tourism, Tourism Planning, Farm Tourism, Tourism, and Disaster Preparedness, and Nature Tourism in Protected Areas were also discussed. (PNA)