The Department of Tourism (DOT), through its regional offices, has coordinated with various local government units and other concerned government agencies to ensure that tourist destinations are equipped to handle the influx of tourists and pilgrims this Holy Week.
As part of the preparations, all DOT regional offices have communicated with the government agencies to lay the groundwork for a successful, peaceful and orderly observance of Lent. As the annual protocol during Holy Week, DOT has issued letters to LGUs requesting that safety and security measures are in place in tourist destinations.
In airports across the regions, DOT has likewise collaborated with the airport authorities for Help Desks where tourists can get assistance for various travel concerns including information about their destination, security or to report special issues.
On security, the DOT has coordinated with LGUs, the Philippine National Police (PNP), and other government security agencies to increase police visibility as well as assure peace and order. In addition, DOT and PNP have a Tourist-Oriented Police for Community Order and Protection (TOP-COP) program where police personnel are trained to handle and assist tourists.
To address emergencies, DOT issued a reminder notice to resorts and hotels to deploy life guards in their beach areas or swimming pools. The public is urged to choose DOT-accredited establishments that can ensure the availability of first-aid trained staff and first-aid kits.
Meanwhile, DOT urges the public to take precautions during their journeys especially in areas where the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) has identified as heat danger zones including Infanta in Quezon, Ambulong in Batangas, Casiguran in Aurora, Pasay City in Metro Manila, Dagupan City in Pangasinan, San Jose City in Occidental Mindoro and Tuguegarao City in Cagayan. For the latest update visit the PAGASA website.
Pilgrims and tourists are advised to stay in shaded areas or if going on a road trip, take breaks to hydrate in order to avoid heatstroke. DOT also encourages the public to bring extra supplies of water in reusable containers and an emergency kit including personal medications.
DOT has also requested that travelers practice responsible tourism by respecting local traditions and practices. This means observing silence in houses of prayer, avoiding the use of flash photography in churches and not taking photos of individuals without permission. Sustainable tourism practices such as properly managing one’s personal trash and avoiding single use plastics by bringing personal water tumblers and utensils are also encouraged.
Lent in the Philippines is a solemn period that begins on Ash Wednesday and culminates with the Semana Santa or Holy Week where unique and diverse events happen simultaneously in all corners of the country. Over the six-week period of Lent, Filipinos make extensive preparations for themselves, their communities and their visitors, and stage rituals and customs that create piously meaningful, transformative, and memorable experiences.
“Lent is an integral part of our national identity. It reflects our faith, history and traditions passed on by our forefathers,” stated DOT Secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat. “Pilgrims and tourists are encouraged to take part in this unique Philippine experience but to always be cautious about their personal safety and be respectful of others.”
“We want to preserve and keep our Lenten traditions thriving. This is why we would invite everyone to practice sustainable tourism. This means being sensitive to the destinations we visit, respecting people’s traditions and practices as well as avoiding destruction of the environment,” Puyat noted.
In the midst of the Lenten season and its accompanying activities, the public is enjoined to follow guidelines and be mindful of other pilgrims and tourists. The public is encouraged to:
1. Follow queues and line-up properly
2. Avoid disturbing devotees by not taking photos with flash
3. Observe silence especially when in houses of prayer
4. Throw and segregate trash in the proper trash bins
5. Avoid using disposable plastic water bottles by bringing reusable tumblers and utensils
6. Dress appropriately
7. Bring an emergency kit that includes personal medicines
8. Stay out of the direct sun and avoid staying under the sun, including while inside vehicles
9. For long journeys, break the trip with water breaks to avoid heatstroke