‘New normal’ tourism demands it: DOT chief underscores need for uniform travel protocols

Published February 17, 2021, 3:51 PM

by Alexandria Dennise San Juan

Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat reiterated on Wednesday, Feb. 17 her call for the enforcement of standardized health protocols across all active tourism destinations in the country.

She noted that based on the results of the latest Philippine travel survey, one the top desires of the traveler-respondents was to have standardized travel and safety protocols in the various travel destinations so that the booking process would become easier.

“This is exactly our complaint because we in the DOT, we really go around and we follow all the protocols because we want to see how it is to travel,”

Puyat said in a virtual briefing wherein she discussed the survey findings. 

“Admittedly, kahit na kami, nahihirapan din kasi (even us are having a hard time because) different provinces [have] different protocols and I agree that it is really important to have uniform travel protocols,” she added.

The online travel survey, which was a follow-up to the May 2020 survey, was conducted by the DOT from Nov. 28 to Dec. 30 last year. It was carried out with the Asian Institute of Management (AIM)-Dr. Andrew L. Tan Center and Guide to the Philippines in a bid to support the crafting of the department’s strategy to jumpstart the tourism industry. 

Another common traveler sentiment that authorities learned from the survey is the need to “personalize” travels.

Based on the survey, “value-sensitive” travelers prefer trips that are tailored according to their needs and objectives. Meanwhile, simplified trips to tourism destinations with the most relaxed health protocols and reduced cost and are a better fit for “price-sensitive” travelers.

In a bid to help travel agencies and tour operators enhance their packages and services, the tourism chief said that the department will roll out development initiatives such as business-to-business meetings, benchmarking, product audit, and familiarization tours featuring new sites and attractions that will entice more people to travel domestically. 

“As always, we shall be taking a multi-lateral approach to address current issues relating to the pandemic, working more closely with local government units, stakeholders, and local communities,” Puyat said.

“Guided by the new survey results, the DOT and its partners will be able to plot the crucial next steps for the recovery of the tourism industry, creating better, more efficient, and effective strategies where there is mutual and inclusive growth for all,” she added.

Titled “The Evolving Landscape of Domestic Travel in the Philippines: A study of travelers and tourism enterprises amidst the pandemic,” the survey gathered responses from a total of 7,243 travelers from all 78 provinces in the country, as well as 108 tourism enterprises to get their views on traveling under the “new normal”.