DOT chief hopes for uniform travel requirements

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat is hoping for eventual uniform travel requirements from local government units (LGUs) in time for the reopening of the country’s tourist destinations. 

DOT Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat

In an interview aired over dzMM Teleradyo, the tourism chief acknowledged the common problems encountered by local tourists when booking trips as requirements vary depending on the destination. 

Baguio City, Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, Palawan, and Siargao Island were the major tourism sites that recently reopened to local tourists, but Puyat emphasized that the LGUs in these areas are the ones determining the necessary travel requirements. 

Boracay, on the other hand, falls under the jurisdiction of the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force (BIATF) where she is a co-chair. 

“Eventually we hope na magiging uniform na ang mga requirements ng destinations para hindi na kailangan ng app,” she said. 

(Eventually we are hoping for uniform requirements in the destinations so we will no longer be needing an app.)

While Baguio is now piloting antigen testing as a substitute requirement for travel than the costly yet “gold standard” reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), Ilocos Sur, on the other hand, requires both negative results for antigen and RT-PCR. There were also differences on the time of the test-before-travel policy.

But Puyat said LGUs are just being careful with the reopening, noting that elected local officials should be respected as they are the ones responsible if an outbreak occurs. 

Meanwhile, in October, the DOT, through its attached agency TPB,  launched Travel Philippines, the country’s official travel companion which provides users the access to the latest travel advisories and safety guidelines in various destinations that have reopened to tourism. 

The web-based platform allows users to create itineraries for their future trips, find up-to-date information on their favorite tourist attractions, and securely store digital copies of travel.