Zambales was among the most visited destinations in Central Luzon pre-pandemic. and now it’s getting ready to reopen to tourists. In 2019, it ranked second in the region in terms of tourist arrivals, receiving a total of 755,141 tourists who spent P1.9 billion in the province.
As local government leaders of Zambales start to prepare to reopen provincial borders to local visitors, the Department of Tourism (DOT) vowed to provide additional assistance that would intensify health and safety protocols in the province.
“As with all other destinations, I cannot stress enough the importance of enforcing the health and safety protocols. These should be strengthened through public information and communications campaigns. Knowing that these guidelines are in place will restore confidence in tourists visiting the province and assurance among the locals who will be welcoming visitors,” Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said on Dec. 11, during a planning forum with Zambales’leaders and tourism stakeholders.
The DOT has agreed to fund a Visitor Management System for Zambales, akin to the Visitor Information and Travel Assistance (VIS.I.T.A.) that it DOT to Baguio City through its Tourism Promotions Board (TPB).
Puyat said the DOT will also continue its inspection and accreditation of tourism-related establishments in the province, as well as provide additional capability-building trainings on the implementation of health and safety guidelines.
According to data provided by the DOT Region 3 Office, Zambales in 2019 ranked second in the region in terms of tourist arrivals and earned an estimated P1.9 billion in tourism expenditure.
Governor Ebdane said, “ We need the cooperation of everybody to be prepared.”
The Zambales coastline is most famous for its beaches and dive sites teeming with coral reefs that are home to giant clams or as the locals call them, taklobo.
To aid tourism businesses and workers of Zambales in recovering from their losses, Puyat cited existing government assistance for the tourism industry such as the financial assistance program for displaced tourism workers of the DOT and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).
"The financial assistance program now extends to beneficiaries of both the DSWD’s SAP and DOLE’s CAMP under BAYANIHAN 1; workers of affected establishments that implemented Flexible Work Arrangements or Alternative Work Schemes; and LGU-Licensed Secondary Tourism Enterprises. Please get in touch with our Regional Office. Of course, we want to give it to as many people working in the tourism industry as possible,” Puyat said.
As of Dec. 11, the DOT Region 3 has endorsed 588 beneficiaries from 50 tourism establishments and two community-based tourism organizations in Zambales to receive one-time cash assistance of P5,000 through the DOT-DOLE program.
Meanwhile, under the CARES for TRAVEL program between the DOT and the Small Business Corporation (SB Corp), tourism micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) will have access to zero interest, no collateral loans with a loan term period of up to four years including a corresponding grace period of up to one year. “The borrower MSMEs will only need to pay a one-time service fee, which is at a maximum of eight percent for a four-year loan,” Puyat added.