DOT: Simplified travel requirements to boost Philippine tourism revival

Rosette Adel - Philstar.com
DOT: Simplified travel requirements to boost Philippine tourism revival
This Nov. 2020 file photo shows tourists at the Caticlan Jetty Port.
Malay Municipal Tourism Office / Facebook

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Tourism on Saturday welcomed the Inter-Agency Task Force on Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases’ decision to approve the uniform travel protocols for all local government units.

Under the new IATF’s directive, tourists are no longer required to submit negative COVID-19 tests before travel, unless the LGU of the destination would require them. The health certificates and travel authority clearance from the Joint Task Force COVID Shield are also no longer required.

Likewise, travelers would only be asked to undergo quarantine if they exhibit symptoms upon their arrival at their destination.

The DOT said the easement of travel restrictions will facilitate the travel movement and promote local tourism.

“The DOT deems the simplification of requirements as vital in encouraging domestic travel and helping in the speedy recovery of Philippine tourism,” it agency said in a statement.

The IATF’s uniform travel protocols came a week after the Department of Interior and Local Government’s streamlining of entry requirements and procedures implemented by various LGUs.

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat then said the simplification of travel requirements is “critical in making domestic tourism work.”

A recent travel survey of the DOT, Asian Institute of Management – Dr. Andrew L. Tan Center for Tourism, and Guide to the Philippines released last February 17 showed that 81% of the 7,234 respondents nationwide said that they consider the varying LGU entry requirements as a factor that makes travel “most inconvenient.”

COVID-19 test requirements

Meanwhile, the IATF’s easement of travel requirements also came a week after Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia dropped the mandatory negative Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) test result requirement before entry to the province.

Cebu only requires a valid medical certificate for the purchase of ticket for travel via air, land o sea. This shall be issued by a reputable doctor and within seven days prior to travel date.

Early this month, the DOT said most areas, especially Boracay Island still require a negative RT-PCR test result.

LGUs usually ask for medical certificate, pre-travel and test-on-arrival COVID-19 tests and quarantine.

However, some areas like Bohol and Surigao del Norte, where tourist destination Siargao is located, are allowing the COVID-19 saliva test for tourists. Other areas like Baguio City and staycation hotels in Metro Manila, on the other hand, allow a more affordable option, rapid antigen testing.

The DOT last February 3 said it is within the purview of the local government units to determine the type of test deemed best to keep their communities and borders safe.

It reiterated this stance anew on Saturday, saying the agency “also defers to the decision of LGUs to require tests before travel.”

For those who will still require COVID-19 tests, the DOT reminds the public that RT-PCR test has been made more affordable through the collaboration of the DOT with the University of the Philippines – Philippine General Hospital (UP-PGH) and the Philippine Children’s Medical Hospital (PCMC). Under this collaboration, the DOT’s marketing and promotions unit, Tourism Promotions Board offers 50% subsidized test to local tourists at P900 and P750 from, UP-PGH and PCMC, respectively.

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