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IATF asked to authorize entry of foreign nationals
Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said tourism enterprises have complied with every health protocol set by the government, proof of which is the sector has yet to witness an outbreak since reopening to domestic tourists last year.
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IATF asked to authorize entry of foreign nationals

Elijah Felice Rosales (The Philippine Star) - April 6, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Tourism (DOT) hopes that the travel sector’s record of posting zero outbreaks would convince policymakers to permit the entry of foreign nationals.

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said tourism enterprises have complied with every health protocol set by the government, proof of which is the sector has yet to witness an outbreak since reopening to domestic tourists last year.

Puyat asked policymakers at the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) to consider tourism’s reputation in managing risks when they assess the proposal to reopen borders to foreign visitors.

“I am confident that our colleagues at the IATF would look at the fact that there was no outbreak due to tourism. When they do, I hope they finally allow foreign tourists to enter our country,” Puyat said in a radio interview last Sunday.

The sector is struggling to see light in the pandemic tunnel, especially now that Metro Manila is placed under lockdown. Further, the government has yet to indicate when it plans to reopen borders to foreign travelers.

Visitor arrivals in the first two months of the year crashed by almost 99 percent to 17,422, from 1.25 million during the same period last year.

The slump was attributed to the IATF’s decision to keep gateways closed and prohibit the entry of foreign nationals, as the government fumbles to contain a recent surge in COVID-19 cases in Metro Manila and surrounding provinces.

The DOT has turned to domestic travelers to keep tourism afloat, but the revert to lockdown has prevented even locals from taking a trip this summer season.

For this month, Tourism Undersecretary Benito Bengzon said tourism stakeholders are gearing up for the kind of travel activities that would sell in the new normal.

Based on consultations, tourists would pay for open air recreation to minimize the risks of transmission.

Bengzon also disclosed that the DOT is evaluating options on how to get vaccinated foreigners into the country, but the proposal has yet to make progress in IATF discussions.

Last year, visitor arrivals fell by more than 82 percent to 1.48 million, from 8.26 million in 2019.

In turn, visitor spending declined by about 83 percent to P82.24 billion, from P482.15 billion, to the detriment of mostly micro, small and medium enterprises relying on tourism.

DEPARTMENT OF TOURISM IATF
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