Regional Updates (01/21/21)

Bacolod, Negros Occidental map out tourism sector’s reopening

NEGROS Occidental province and the independent city of Bacolod have jointly started planning for reopening to tourists, along with possible recovery measures such as tax breaks to help industry players beat up by the coronavirus pandemic. “If you (tourism stakeholders) have any proposal, we are willing to go over them, we are open to that. If we can hear your proposal, I can take it up with the SP (Sangguniang Panlungsod or the city council),” Mayor Evelio R. Leonardia of Bacolod, the province’s commercial center, said during a stakeholders’ meeting on Tuesday organized by the Department of Tourism (DoT). Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, who was on a three-day visit to the province this week, said it is important to have localized plans for restarting tourism activities. “As the pandemic affected various regions in different ways, it was evident that there was no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution to restart tourism. Through regular dialogues and consultations with local government units (LGUs) and stakeholders, we can better understand the situation in the areas and help address the most pressing needs of the constituents,” she said during the meeting. Among the areas that have reopened to domestic travelers are the islands of Boracay and Siargao, Ilocos Region, and Baguio City. Ms. Puyat, who also led the distribution of financial assistance to displaced workers and soft loans to establishments under the government’s COVID-19 response programs, announced that the department has other ongoing projects to help industry players such as subsidies for the RT-PCR testing of tourism employees. Negros Occidental, including Bacolod, has recorded 12,243 coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases as of January 20, of which 284 are active. There have been 11,598 recoveries. The province is known for its colonial houses and other heritage sites, beaches and eco-tourism sites. — MSJ

Coca-Cola PHL opens new ‘smart’ distribution hub in Manila

COCA-COLA’S bottling arm in the country has opened a new distribution hub in Manila equipped with a smart logistics system, which will become a model for other centers across the country. In a statement on Thursday, Coca Cola Beverages Philippines, Inc. (CCBPI) said the facility jumpstarts “a series of bullish investments for 2021” in line with expansion plans nationwide. “The new site will also be a testing hub for all process and capability improvements to be rolled out to the rest of Coca-Cola distribution facilities across the country,” the company said. CCBPI Chief Executive Officer and President CEO Gareth McGeown said the distribution center will also open job opportunities for locals of the host area such as in Manila. All the hub’s regular employees are Manila residents. “This pandemic taught us so many things. Value to one’s life, value to family, value to health and safety. We have learned a lot from both our achievements and shortcomings during the pandemic, but we are sure that what will help us more in the coming months are jobs,” Manila Mayor Francisco M. Domagoso is quoted in the statement. “We are optimistic that in one way or another, business will bounce back. So in return for the trust that Coca-Cola is giving us, we (will) ensure that we (Manila government) will be efficient as we overcome the pandemic together.”

Zamboanga City ready for leisure visitors by February

ZAMBOANGA City is ready to reopen its borders to tourists starting February, the local government announced on Thursday. “Leisure and non-essential visits will soon be allowed as Zamboanga City reopens for tourism next month,” the city government said in a statement. Visitors will have to comply with requirements such as negative result of an RT-PCR test for the coronavirus, confirmed booking at an accredited hotel, and authority to enter from the city government, among others. The city’s island destinations, Sta. Cruz and Islas, are also set to reopen. For other information, visit the city’s social media pages or email

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