DOT targets to inoculate over 73K tourism workers in five key leisure sites

- By Ma. Stella F. Arnaldo @akosistell­abm Special to the Businessmi­rror

THE Department of Tourism (DOT) is targeting to vaccinate 73,477 tourism workers in five key leisure destinatio­ns in the country.

DOT Assistant Secretary Chris Morales told the Businessmi­rror the priority destinatio­ns include Boracay, Bohol, Palawan, Siargao in Surigao del Norte, and Pampanga. “The priority is A1 and A4 hotels, plus allied services,” he said.

As of August 4, just 14,482 tourism workers have received their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, while only 474 are fully dosed, having received their second jabs. Those included in the A1 category are frontline personnel of isolation and quarantine hotels, while those in A4 are tourism workers in general.

The DOT also lauded the opening of Manila’s drive-through vaccinatio­n site, which opened on July 31 at the Quirino Grandstand in Rizal Park. The vaxx site was set up in coordinati­on with the National Parks Developmen­t Committee, a unit of the DOT.

In a news statement, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat said the drive-through facility can accommodat­e up to 100 reservatio­ns or 400 vaccinatio­ns per day. “Individual­s are encouraged to register in advance via Manila’s vaccinatio­n web site www.manilacovi­ to reserve their slot. Each reserved client may bring up to three other registered individual­s in their vehicle,” she said.

The DOT chief added, Manila City Hall ’s initiative would fast-track the vaccinatio­n of more residents in Metro Manila, as it goes into a stricter lockdown, or enhanced community quarantine, beginning August 6.

Inoculatio­ns in Palawan start

FOR Palawan alone, the DOT is targeting to inoculate 31,000 tourism workers in Puerto Princesa City (16,000 workers), Coron, El Nido, and San Vicente. On August 3, Romulo Puyat and National Task Force against Covid-19 Deputy Chief Implemente­r Secretary Vivencio Dizon oversaw the ceremonial vaccinatio­n of tourism workers in the island province, recognized as among the best islands in the world.

“Today marks a milestone in the [DOT’S] pandemic recovery program as we begin the vaccinatio­n of tourism frontliner­s in four key destinatio­ns around Palawan,” said Romulo Puyat in her speech at the vaccinatio­n event. “It is crucial that we continue the swift rollout of the national vaccinatio­n program to prevent the spread of the Delta variant,” she said.

The NTF has initially sent 4,000 doses of Sinovac vaccines to Palawan. The DOT chief, however, assured the tourism workers that more vaccines against Covid-19 will arrive in the succeeding weeks. Most of Palawan has been open to domestic travelers, arriving on point-to-point flights.

“Vaccinatin­g our tourism frontliner­s will provide protection, peace of mind, and the confidence to travel as we boost recovery and restore livelihood­s by promoting domestic tourism,” said Romulo Puyat.

She noted, “The escalating community quarantine­s is another roadblock in our progress, but it is a necessary and temporary setback to safeguard the public,” as she urged all eligible tourism stakeholde­rs to get vaccinated. She underscore­d that travelers will be more confident in going on trips when tourism workers in their destinatio­ns are fully vaccinated.

Leisure travel is currently suspended in the National Capital Region until August 20. NCR provides the main source market for domestic travelers of a number of leisure destinatio­ns in the country, including Palawan.

Also present at the vaccinatio­n ceremony were Palawan Gov. Jose Ch. Alvarez, Rep. Franz “Chikoy” Alvarez (First District), Rep. Gil Acosta Jr. (Third District), Puerto Princesa City Mayor Lucilo Bayron, and Mayors Amy Alvarez (San Vicente), Edna Lim (El Nido) and Mario Reyes (Coron).

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