DOT prepares domestic tourism protocols for after the quarantine
A teenager uses an electric scooter on a sidewalk if Rizal Park in Manila on Wednesday (May 20, 2020). The Department of Transportation is promoting the use of two-wheeled vehicles such as motorcycles and bicycles, to enable commuters to follow physical distancing measures amid the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic
Philippine News Agency/Avito Dalan
DOT prepares domestic tourism protocols for after the quarantine
Rosette Adel ( - May 21, 2020 - 7:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Tourism on Wednesday said it is already preparing for the reopening and revival of tourism in the Philippines once areas are placed under the modified General Community Quarantine.

It said that it is working with the inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) and the local government units to determine these stricter protocols.

“It is important that we embrace the new normal and equip our industry stakeholders with the appropriate tools and knowledge to recover and succeed in the post-lockdown era,” Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said during an online hearing of the Senate Committee of the Whole into the impact of COVID-19 in the country.

Puyat presented a situationer on the DOT’s measures to mitigate the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The DOT said it is hopeful that the early preparation will help ease the tourism sector's transition once travel restrictions have been lifted and domestic travel will resume for all areas.

It said that the initiative will “help provide livelihoods and generate jobs for Filipinos in these identified areas where tourism is their primary source of revenue.”

Where tourists can travel and who can visit tourist destinations

The tourism agency has yet to identify the destinations where the local economy depends heavily on tourism. These areas, deemed “relatively smaller destinations where activities can be contained and better managed” will be placed under the so-called “new normal” or MGCQ.

With this plan, the DOT said the safety and well-being of both the tourists and residents will remain the priority.

It is eyeing to allow residents from nearby areas that are already placed under GCQ to visit the destinations once they reopen, as long tourists follow the local government unit's safety guidelines.

The National Capital Region and seven other areas considered at high risk of COVID-19 transmission are under the modified enhanced community quarantine until May 31, while Cebu City and Mandaue City remain under the ECQ. The rest of the areas in the country are now placed under GCQ.

Under IATF guidelines for industries in Category IV, tourist destinations such as water parks, beaches and resorts are still not allowed to operate under any of the quarantine levels.

Travel agencies, tour operators, reservation services and related activities are still prohibited, as are libraries, archives, museums centers as well as entertainment industries like theaters, karaoke bar and kid amusement industries such as playrooms and rides.

COVID-19 deflated tourist arrivals into the country as DOT recorded a 54.01 % decrease in foreign arrivals in the first four months of 2020. It is targeting to have 9.2 million visitors this year after setting a record-high 8.26 million tourist arrivals in 2019. 

Safety protocols

Puyat also presented the Tourism Response and Recovery Plan that the agency crafted with tourism stakeholders through the Tourism Congress of the Philippines.

This includes “initial safety plans and protocols for travelers and tourism enterprises for the new normal in travel following the community quarantine.”

The safety measures earlier proposed for the reopening of tourism hubs are as follows.

  • Regular sanitation/ disinfection of tourism accommodation and transport services;
  • Provision of sanitation/ disinfecting devices, including PPEs for tourism workers;
  • Regular inspection of tourism establishments by agencies in relation to health and safety standards;
  • Development of online systems that can facilitate tourism-related transactions such as applications for accreditation, training modules, and even retail.

Last Friday, the tourism agency together with the Guide to the Philippines and Asian Institute of Management’s Dr. Andrew L. Tan Center for Tourism launched an online survey to help determine the "new normal" for the travel and tourism industry.

Puyat last week said “there is no going back” to the way things were and accepted that there is a new landscape for tourism.

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