Tourism sector told to act now, don’t wait for total quarantine lifting

Published September 15, 2020, 10:53 AM

by Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat

Tourism advocate Samie Lim has urged industry players not to wait for the total lifting of quarantine but to jumpstart safe activities to stimulate local tourism.

“I know different provinces are in different quarantine levels but if we want to jumpstart tourism, you need to hit the road running. Ilocos Norte has prepared affordable packages exclusive for their residents. Prepare packages now, don’t wait for when the quarantine is lifted,” said Lim in a presentation on “Tourism in the New Normal” at the recent Mindanao Business Conference.

“It is all about coming up with exciting yet safe activities that will encourage the residents to travel within the province, to stir local tourism.”

              Lim urged all industry players to work closely with their respective local government units, and tourism offices to come up with activities that are safe from virus transmission.

He cited various initiatives from local government units that are worth emulating.

           For instance, “travel bubble” is the buzzword in global tourism now, but Bohol has proven it is not only between countries, it can also be between provinces or even cities/municipalities. The island province is creating the Panglao Bubble where local tourist activities in the island safely. 

          Baguio, for its part, went even further. Recognizing that to revive tourism, they cannot rely on their own, thus, they proposed the development of this BLUPISIN Tourism Corridor. Their initiative and willingness to work with their neighboring provinces is truly commendable.

The Blupisin provinces already signed an MOU that seeks the establishment of green lanes for safe and seamless inter-connected land travel. They are also exploring the implementation of a unified border check protocol for more efficient access into Blupisin destinations.

Baguio is pushing a hyper local marketing approach. They recently conducted this scenic Ilocos Cordillera Drive. At the stopover, a band played, local coffee and ube cheese pandesal were served.

              For Ilocos, they organized drive-in concerts at the famous sand dunes.

There are some LGUs and local tourism offices that came up with initiatives that are worth replicating.

Airlines, which grounded most of their aircraft during the pandemic and flight crew have to clock in necessary mileage to preserve their skills, have innovative approaches to generate new revenue streams.

“Flight to Nowhere” is the latest trend in aviation where planes take off and land on the same airport.

Eva Air sold economy and business class tickets to this flight aboard their Hello Kitty dream jet. The 3 hour trip took off from Taipei airport,flew over beautiful attractions then landed on the same airport.

Passengers had wifi access, inflight entertainment, meal prepared by a 3- star Michelin chef, and lots of souvenirs to bring home. The thumbs up you see is the flight path formed by the plane as a salute to their medical frontliners.

Royal Brunei sells Dine & Fly sightseeing tours with their business class seats always sold out. The pilot provides onboard commentary while guests enjoy a uniquely Bruneian brunch. Flights like these have definitely given a new meaning to the old saying that it is the journey that counts, not the destination.

Qantas boasts of the only overseas sightseeing trip that you can take in 2020 – a12 hour joy ride from Australia to Antarctica and back, so it is considered as a domestic flight, no passports needed. Onboard the Dreamliner jumbo jet are world-renowned experts that serve as guides.

For cruise ships in Germany, a grounded ship just sailed for a sold-out3-day “weekend at sea” cruise. It just goes to the middle of the sea, nowhere else.

The latest projection for international travel is December, Lim said.

”Obviously, we cannot expect tourism to pick-up immediately but it is important that you have a plan and timeline like Boracay,” he said as he encouraged all local chambers to reach out to local tourism offices, help them come up with plans and programs.            

“Let us all be part of the fun until such time that global tourism is back to normal. Please support domestic tourism, together, we can make things happen. I strongly believe that it is our Bayanihan Spirit that will help us rise again as a nation,” he concluded.