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Travel and Tourism

The Hows of Jing: Traveling safely in the Philippines in the new normal

BROAD CAST - Jing Castañeda - Philstar.com
The Hows of Jing: Traveling safely in the Philippines in the new normal
It’s more fun with you! D.O.T.’s latest campaign as the Philippines opens for travel following alert level 1 protocols.
Photo from PTAA

Since alert level 1 was announced a few months ago, you can see more of our kababayans going out and spending time with friends and family. Since the lockdown happened, we were deprived from experiencing summer vacations — going to the beach or going up to Baguio or Tagaytay where it’s cooler.   Placing an area in alert level 1 means: 1) intrazonal and interzonal travel shall be allowed without regard to age and comorbidities, and; 2) all establishments, persons, or activities, are allowed to operate, work, or be undertaken at full on-site or venue/seating capacity, provided it is consistent with minimum public health standards.  

We had with us recently on Pamilya Talk’s F&B Live Department of Tourism’s Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat and the PRO of the Philippine Travel Agencies Association Mr. Hermie Delatado who gave updates on the state of tourism in our country, as well as tips on how to travel safely in the Philippines. 

1) Always wear a mask. 

Sec. Berna termed the current tourism activity in the Philippines as “revenge tourism” because Filipinos have been excitedly going back to visiting tourist spots this summer, making the most out of the alert level 1 mandate. But she was also quick to remind the public that even in areas under alert level 1, tourists still need to always wear face masks, except when eating, participating in sports in open or well-ventilated areas, and working out in places where social distancing can be practiced.   Having your own alcohol or hand sanitizer is also a must for protection.

2) Bring your vaccination card and follow the health protocols of the LGUs.

One of Sec. Berna’s first tips was to check the protocols of the LGU you are visiting.   “Ang mga LGUs may kanya-kanyang protocols, but since alert level 1 na lang naman tayo, normally ang hinahanap na lang naman ng tourist destinations ay kung bakunado ka.  So, you have to show your vaccination card. Kung hindi bakunado, humihingi sila ng negative RTPCR. But we always remind everybody na kahit vaccinated ka or negative ka sa RTPCR, susunod pa rin sa minimum health and safety protocols.” 

As for balikbayans, all incoming passengers including foreigners, need to be fully vaccinated, have a negative RTPCR test 48 hours before departure, or negative lab-based antigen 24 hours before departure to enter the Philippines. “Kunwari kasama nila ang 12 years and below and they're unvaccinated, they will follow the vaccination status of the parents. Yun lang ang papayagan na unvaxxed, yung 12 years and below as long as kasama nila ang kanilang mga magulang na fully vaccinated,” she adds. For OFWs / returning Filipinos, if they’re unvaccinated, they must undergo a 5-day quarantine. 

Watch the Pamilya Talk’s F&B Live episode with our guests Tourism Sec. Berna Romulo Puyat and Hemie Delatado (PTAA)

3) Check the vaccination status of the LGU/places you’re visiting

D.O.T’s current campaign is “It’s More Fun with You!” Families and friends are now easing into the “norm” of traveling together again. “Filipinos always love to travel as a family. And it's really more fun (to travel) with all your loved ones,” says Sec. Berna. 

She emphasized that 97% of the people manning the country’s tourist destinations, as well as their locals, have already been fully vaccinated. “May booster program na rin sila kasi it's very important na hindi lang protected ang ating mga workers but protected din ang ating mga turista.” 

4) Avoid overcrowded places and travel in small groups.

Because of the pandemic, there has been an increase in the demand for domestic travel, as well as less crowded tourist spots.   Sec. Berna observed, nature and agri tourism has been appealing to more travelers as customers look for open-air and less crowded activities.    

“Yung mga farm, open air yan; open space.  Gustung-gusto ng mga tao kasi safer, tapos  pumipitas sila and they eat what they harvest.  This is actually a full circle na kasi before D.O.T., andun ako sa Department of Agriculture at yun talaga yung pinupush namin, ang farm tourism. And we're happy that it's the 10th tourism product. People for example want to go to Baguio for strawberry picking, sa La Union, mga April or May, grape picking naman,” shares Sec. Berna.   

With Department of Tourism Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat

5) Check with travel agencies for tips on choosing safe airlines, hotels, and other partners. 

The alert level 1 implementation is not only favorable for Filipino travelers but mostly for individuals who work in the travel industry. 

“Marami sa mga members namin ang nagsara muna pansamantala dahil nag-iba ng career pero ngayon po, unti unti na silang nagbabalikan,” says Hermie Delatado from the Philippine Travel Agencies Association (PTAA).   

Delatado also updated everyone about the upcoming 29th PTAA Travel Tour Expo 2022 that will finally be happening face-to-face at the SMX Convention Center on June 24-26, 2022. Here is where the PTAA members present their services and products and offer the best travel deals.  It’s basically a one-stop shop to book your next vacation.  Through the expo, the public can have the opportunity to assess the safety and health guidelines of the airlines, hotels, and tourist destinations.  After all, because of the pandemic, the best deals now do not just refer to the lowest rates, but to tour packages which are safe as well. 

'It's More Fun With You'

During the episode, we asked Hermie about the updated attractions in some of the favorite tourist destinations here in the Philippines. Here are his top recommendations.

Boracay is by far the number one destination if you want to go to the beach while enjoying the night life. “Talagang may ibang pag-eengganyo ang Boracay.   Bukod sa kanilang pinong buhangin na mala-asukal, ma-e-enjoy din ang kanilang water activities,” says Hermie. 

Ilocos is also already open for tourists. You can swim and relax at their picturesque beaches, and you can also do a heritage tour to get to know the province’s rich history. “Nariyan po ang Pagudpud beach, Bangui Windmills, Blue Lagoon at iba pa,” explains Delatado.

Over at Pangasinan, they are pushing for their bike tourism, which would be perfect for bike enthusiasts to visit. 

One of the foremost surf destinations in the Philippines, Siargao, is slowly getting back on its feet after being hit hard by the typhoon. They are now open to visitors as well. Another adventure filled place to visit would be Davao with one of its latest attractions in Eden Park, which is their Maze Garden. 

But Delatado’s favorite destination is his hometown, Batanes.  “Batanes, kung saan pagkalabas mo pa lang ng airport, maaari mo nang puntahan ang Vayang Rolling Hills na matatanaw ang Mount Iraya. Sa bayan ng Basco makikita ang pamosong light house. Sa bayan naman ng Sabtang, makikita mo ang mga stone houses at ang Morong Beach. Pagtawid mo naman ng Ivana, dito makikita natin ang kilalang Honesty Store, ang tindahan na walang bantay. Kapitbahay nya po ang oldest house sa Batanes na itinayo nuong 1877, ang House of Dakay na kung saan isa po ako sa apo ng may-ari,” he says. 

Batanes is not yet open for visitors until May or June this year.
Photo from PTAA

Our country is such a beautiful place. It’s rich with locations that you can be proud to promote to international travelers. We only have one life to live so with any given opportunity, we should try to discover the Philippines and experience the food, the sites, and the culture of each region. With the pandemic still hovering over us, we should be extra careful when we travel and protect ourselves from the danger of getting COVID-19. Have yourself vaccinated, get your booster shots, strengthen your immune system, and follow protocols, so travel in the Philippines would continue to improve. 

 

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Watch Pamilya Talk on Facebook, YouTube, and Kumu (@JingCastaneda – 4:00 - 5:00 p.m. Tuesday & Wednesday). You can also follow my social media accounts: InstagramFacebookYouTubeTwitter and Kumu.  Please share your stories or suggest topics at [email protected] 

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