The Department of Tourism (DOT) is supporting the proposal of the national government’s COVID-19 task force for local government units (LGUs) to adopt a uniform set of requirements that are within the existing omnibus interim guidelines for a seamless travel.
In its December 14 meeting, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) agreed to mandate a clinical and exposure assessment for travelers; simplify and condense the pathways into two algorithms both for inbound international travelers and interzonal domestic travelers; provide LGUs a free hand to determine appropriate protocols aligned with the omnibus interim guidelines; and enjoin the implementing agencies to issue necessary supplementary guidelines.
“Given these parameters, and in order to facilitate the ease of travel of our kababayans, we strongly support the proposal for LGUs to adopt a uniform set of guidelines, listing the requirements and step-by-step procedure, for compliance of visitors to tourist destinations,” Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said.
As the country slowly reopens for domestic travel, the tourism chief lauded the LGUs for their efforts in reopening safe tourist destinations all over the country in answer to the increasing interest in travel and tour activities.
But she said she said the DOT defers to the LGUs’ decision when to reopen their destinations.
“After all, it is the host destination that reaps the benefits of a well-planned, ‘all-systems-go’ restart and vice-versa, the ill consequences of a hastened, premature reopening,” she said.
“We are truly impressed with the efforts of the LGUs for extending a hand to our tourism industry stakeholders in getting back on their feet again, as well as making available safe tourism sites to our fellow Filipinos who long for outdoor activities,” she added.
In the same meeting, she cited the VIS.I.TA digital travel app currently being used by the Ridge to Reef travel corridor of Baguio City, Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur, where she described that the system to have proven effective, not only as a contact tracing and visitor capacity control mechanism but also for planning and research purposes.
“We want all destinations to take advantage of this digital system for free, through our attached agency, the Tourism Promotions Board (TBP),” she said.
Puyat said standard travel protocols that the LGUs can adopt may include the COVID-19 test-before-travel or test-upon-arrival options, the validity of the required COVID-19 test, confirmed hotel reservation with a DOT-accredited accommodation establishment, confirmed round-trip plane tickets, and tour itinerary with a DOT-accredited tour operator.
Some LGUs also demand medical clearances and travel authorities.
“Since tourists would wish to visit several destinations, it is confusing and cumbersome if LGUs have different apps, protocols and requirements to comply with. Thus, uniformity should make travel plans a lot easier and ultimately, more fun,” the tourism chief stressed.