Bohol opens its doors to tourists under DOT travel bubble

Published November 16, 2020, 12:53 PM

by Minerva Newman

TAGBILARAN CITY— The provincial government of Bohol has issued the implementing guidelines that will usher in the return of tourists under the Department of Tourism’s (DOT) concept of a travel bubble.

Bohol Governor Arthur Yap (MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)
Bohol Governor Arthur Yap (MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

Governor Arthur Yap signed Executive Order (EO) No. 53 that formally sets the travel protocol requirements for tourists, who will come for meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions (MICE) and other events with at least 6 attendees. These would ensure the protection of tourists and locals from any possible coronavirus disease (COVID-19) transmission.

EO-53 took effect on November 13, and said that term “events” will include weddings, reunions, anniversaries, birthdays and similar celebrations. 

According to the EO, tourists need a confirmed booking in an accommodation establishment in Panglao or Dauis, which has acquired a DOT Certificate of Authority to Operate or the Ultimate Bohol Experience (UBE) seal from the provincial government.

Tourists must also be able to present a negative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test from a Department of Health (DOH)-accredited laboratory, not earlier than 72 hours prior to the date of travel, to be allowed entry to Bohol.

These tourists were also strongly advised to observe strict quarantine immediately after undergoing the RT-PCR until their travel to Bohol.  They have to pre-register through the Bohol Tourist Registration portal

Registrants are then given necessary information and instruction on the policies, and assigned a personal Quick Response Code serving as their visitor ID to Bohol.

While all inbound tourists are mandated to strictly observe health and safety protocols –  wear masks, always wash hands frequently and keep social or physical distance upon check-in at the airport, or upon arrival –  they will have to present a copy of their negative test results by RT PCR.

Without that negative test results, they must sign an undertaking stating that they will take an RT PCR test upon arrival and undergo strict quarantine until the negative RT PCR test result is issued. 

Incoming tourists must carry at all times electronic copies of their documents, including the QR Code which is scanned upon entrance and exit of all visited establishments in Bohol.  This facilitates easier contact tracing while in Bohol.

Tourists staying for over five days must undergo a repeat RT PCR on the fifth day of their stay, according to the EO.  All tourists are picked up by the transport service of the accommodation establishment where they will stay upon their arrival in Bohol.

Or they can also be picked up by a pre-booked tourist transport service provider which will bring them to their pre-booked accommodation establishments.

While in transit, stop-overs will not be allowed nor can tourists meet with local friends, relatives, acquaintances outside the tourism bubble. 

For locals who are joining tourists in MICE and other events, they will have to be quarantined for five days and be tested via RT-PCR.

For tourists visiting tourist spots, they may do so only when these are organized through DOT-accredited travel and tour operators as travel will only be through sites which have UBE seal and accompanied by DOT accredited tour guides and LGU-licensed community tour guides.

Stops are only allowed in designated areas and tour operators must strictly follow pre-set itinerary, never deviating from the same.  There would be no walk-in tourists, says the EO.

In cases when a guest exhibits symptoms of COVID-19, he or she will immediately be isolated, and tested through RT PCR, and the tour guide or operator will be responsible to contact the medical response team for assessment and care.

Over-all supervision and monitoring of the Bohol tourist bubble protocols rest upon the Bohol Tourism Office.