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Cebu News

Safety protocols to continue in tourism destinations

Caecent No-ot Magsumbol - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines — The Department of Tourism (DOT) has reassured travelers that health and safety protocols continue to be in place in tourism destinations in the Philippines.

This came after the Philippines was included in the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) list of countries under level 3 for the Covid-19 category. More than half of the roughly 235 places monitored by the CDC have also been placed under the same level, according to DOT’s latest release.

“The global pandemic continues to expose the tourism industry to challenges, but our travelers rest assured that the Philippine government continues to ensure that minimum public health and safety standards are in place, coupled with the precautionary measures observed by our partners from the private and public sectors. Therefore, our guests can safely enjoy any of our 7,641 islands even in the time of the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco.

Frasco added that they are confident in the measures and guidelines set in the country.

“We are confident of the measures and guidelines that we have instituted to strike a balance between safety and travel in the new normal,” added Frasco.

The Department of Health (DOH) earlier emphasized the different metrics employed by the Philippines and the US in Covid-19 classification and that currently, the country is now giving more weight to the healthcare utilization rate rather than the number of new cases.

The Philippines also boasts of a 92.3 percent vaccination rate, equivalent to more than 72 million Filipinos fully vaccinated as of August 14, 2022.

More to it, Frasco emphasized the need to change perspectives and learn to live with the virus.

“What we learned from the advent of Covid-19 is that we cannot continue to allow the fear of it to negatively shape our lives and our travel plans. So much has been lost to this pandemic. We need to revise our perspective and learn how to live with this virus in a manner that is reasonable, rational, as well as responsible of health protocols so, that not only lives but livelihoods of people dependent on tourism may be saved in the process,” Frasco said.

A boost for MCIA

Meanwhile, AirAsia Philippines has relaunched its Cebu Hub operating additional domestic flights to Visayas and Mindanao destinations such as Davao, Cagayan De Oro, and Puerto Princesa and international flights to Seoul and Kuala Lumpur.

This move is seen to give a boost to Mactan-Cebu International Airport.

“Every resumption of airline operation, every reinstatement of routes, and every passenger arriving in Cebu is a celebration. The resumption of Philippines AirAsia Cebu hub is a big celebration, and we will continue to hold hands with Philippines AirAsia, together with the local government of Cebu, the Department of Tourism, and all tourism and travel stakeholders, to push for the recovery of tourism in Cebu,” said Lissa Aines Librodo, head of airline marketing and tourism development of GMR-Megawide Cebu Airport Corporation (GMCAC), in a press statement.

Currently, AirAsia flies four times daily from Manila to Cebu and three times weekly from Caticlan (Boracay) to Cebu.

“The reopening of our Cebu hub signifies AirAsia's commitment to improving connectivity and providing best options among guests not only for flights but also with our partner hotels, tour providers and merchants, all present in our digital, travel and lifestyle platform -- AirAsia Super App,” said Ricky Isla, chief executive officer of Philippines AirAsia, in the separate  statement.

GMAC said that starting August 16, 2022, AirAsia operates four times weekly flights to Cagayan De Oro and Davao, while Puerto Princesa starting September 2, 2022.

Meanwhile, international flights will also operate starting August 16, 2022 with 3x weekly flights to Incheon, and Kuala Lumpur with 3x weekly flights starting September 21, 2022.

“The increase in flight frequency strategically positions AirAsia as a key driver in boosting economic activities in the various provinces which need a springboard to speed up the recovery phase. Our guests can count on our solid track record in safety, best value for money deals and world's best service each time they fly," Isla added.

Strategically situated at the center of the archipelago, MCIA is the second largest and busiest gateway to the different tourism destinations in the Visayas and Mindanao.

Cebu is an important location that now connects to 23 domestic destinations with 502 flights weekly and 11 international destinations with 60 weekly flights. — Mitchelle L. Palaubsanon, JMD  (FREEMAN)

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