Strict enforcement of guidelines to boost tourist confidence

Catherine Talavera (The Philippine Star) - June 1, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The strict enforcement of health and safety operational guidelines is seen to help the Philippines regain the trust of tourists as a safe and viable tourism destination sooner, which will hasten the recovery of the industry, according to Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat.

“We must ensure that operational guidelines and regulations are strictly followed,” Puyat said in a webinar organized by the Department of Tourism (DOT).

Puyat said that safety would now be the number one consideration of tourists when visiting a certain place.

“The DOT has released the latest memorandum circular on health and safety guidelines for accommodation establishments last May 22, and I think our session today is very timely because we are talking about sanitation, and this sanitation is a major indicator in the new set of standards that we have rolled out,” Tourism Undersecretary Arturo Boncato Jr. said.

The recently issued guidelines aim to institutionalize updated health and safety protocols in the operations of accommodation establishments under a “new normal” scenario, which focus on areas such as guest handling, rooms occupancy, housekeeping, food and beverage services, kitchen sanitation and disinfection as well as business practice and management, among others.

Puyat said the webinar, which is part of the DOT’s Online Learning Series (OLS), would help stakeholders ingrain into their minds the importance of the safety of tourists.

The webinar also featured Anthony Herrera, the lead chemist of Ecolab’s Institutional Division in Southeast Asia, who discussed the best practices in resuming operations and heightened cleaning and sanitizing procedures in areas of tourist attractions and accommodation facilities.

Herrera supported the DOT’s health and safety guidelines with scientific infection prevention practices through an overview of the science and facts of disinfection, product differentiation, antimicrobial technologies, World Health Organization (WHO) COVID-19 management, and frequency of cleaning and disinfection.

“We need to make sure that you are using the right product, the right chemical for your target application. The new normal is all about cleaning and disinfection so you need to know the definition. Make sure you check their labels and claims,” Herrera said.

He also discussed the available antimicrobial technologies in the market that need special instructions when used such as chlorine, quaternary ammonium or quats, hydrogen peroxide, and ultraviolet light.

“If you see WHO or the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), even our local Department of Health (DOH), you can see in their guidelines that chlorine is actually being recommended because chlorine is very effective in killing bacteria and viruses, and is commercially available,” Herrera said.

The webinar is part of the DOT’s push for online learning courses for tourism stakeholders.

Last month, the DOT held several online learning courses particularly on topics such as the Filipino brand of service and utilizing the enhanced community quarantine for tourism enterprises, among others.

“The DOT will continue to develop other online courses to enhance skills, assist and encourage stakeholders to cope, transition and move towards recovery,” Puyat said in an earlier statement.

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