DOT on US travel advisory on Philippines: Safety cannot be compromised
Travelers walk past a thermal camera upon arrival at the international airport in Manila on February 5, 2020.
AFP/Romeo Gacad

DOT on US travel advisory on Philippines: Safety cannot be compromised

Rosette Adel (Philstar.com) - April 21, 2021 - 4:31pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Tourism on Wednesday acknowledged the advisory issued by United States government agencies against travel to the Philippines amid threats of COVID-19.

“The Department of Tourism is one with all leaders, governments and their citizenry in observing every measure imposed in order to protect their constituents from the COVID-19 pandemic that has affected the lives of millions around the world,” the agency said in a statement.

While the tourism industry is raring to receive international guests, the DOT stressed that the health and safety of the tourists, tourism workers and host communities of the country’s destination cannot be compromised.

The DOT also said that travel advisories issued by different countries are fleeting.

“It is our fervent hope that the situation will improve sooner than anticipated, with the rollout of the vaccination program, and that families and friends will get the opportunity to travel safely back to the beautiful islands of The Philippines,” the agency said.

On Tuesday, various agencies of the US government advised against travel to the Philippines. They cited the "very high" level of COVID-19 and additional risks such as terrorism, civil unrest, and kidnapping. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on its website also placed the Philippines under Level 4 or “very high level of COVID-19.”

This is the highest level of its COVID-19 classification and CDC advised people to “avoid all travel to the Philippines.”

“Because of the current situation in the Philippines even fully vaccinated travelers may be at risk for getting and spreading COVID-19 variants and should avoid all travel to the Philippines,” the US CDC said.

“If you must travel to the Philippines, get fully vaccinated before travel. All travelers should wear a mask, stay 6 feet from others, avoid crowds, and wash their hands,” it added.

Hong Kong bans flights from Philippines

Aside from the US, the Hong Kong government also classified the Philippines as “extremely high risk” after there had been multiple imported cases carrying the strain into the Asian financial in the past 14 days.

It then banned flights from the Philippines and two other countries for two weeks after the N501Y mutant COVID-19 strain was detected in Hong Kong for the first time.

The Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease has allowed the entry of balikbayans to the Philippines since December.

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said balikbayans are the country’s third tourist source market.

As of February,  balikbayans are allowed entry provided that they comply with the following conditions of the IAT-MEID:

  • Should have valid and existing visa at the time of entry, except for those qualified under the Balikbayan program under RA 6768; 
  • Should have pre-booked accommodation for at least seven nights in an accredited quarantine hotel/facility; 
  • Subject to COVID-19 testing at the quarantine hotel/facility on the sixth day from date of arrival; 
  • Subject to the maximum capacity of inbound passengers at the port and date of entry

Despite the travel advisories issued by other countries, the DOT said it "will continue to implement the health and safety protocols for all sectors of tourism, interfacing with international travel trade counterparts to sustain ‘top-of-mind’ level of awareness, and collaborating with global tourism advisory bodies and economies to ensure the smooth and safe resumption of international tourism."

"The vaccination drive of the national and local government units, complemented by the continuing adherence to the health and safety guidelines, is  pivotal in arresting the number of cases in the country, an important factor in restoring travelers’ confidence," it said.

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