Summer, as they call it, has come but as the threat of the coronavirus disease remains, would it still be more fun in the Philippines? Yes, according to Department of Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat.
“There is no stopping summer. Marami nang tourist destinations ang nagbukas ngayon — nagbukas na ang Boracay, Puerto Princesa — marami nang pwedeng puntahan ngayon (There are so many tourist destinations that reopened like Boracay, Puerto Princesa — there are many sites to visit now),” said Puyat said in an interview over DZRH on Saturday, March 6.
The national government, along with the Local Government Units (LGUs), is even trying to revive the economy via tourism as more areas have started to open their borders and also eased the travel restrictions like cancelling the Travel Authority and Medical Clearance Certificate as requirements.
Several destinations also have no age restrictions which are perfect for a quick getaway with the whole family including grandparents and children.
“Ang pamilyang Pilipino malungkot ang bakasyon kung hindi kasama ang buong pamilya. Ito na ang pagkakataon na ang buong pamilya ay magkasama-sama at ma-enjoy nila nag napakagagandang beaches sa Pilipinas (Filipinos want to travel with their families. This is the opportunity for the whole family to get together and enjoy the beautiful beaches in the Philippines),” Puyat said.
Aside from the opening of favorite vacation spots in the country, Puyat said that the streamlining of required travel documents will also encourage more tourists to visit these destinations.
The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases approved last month a uniform set of travel protocols for land, air, and sea across the country while keeping strict health protocols in place.
These include the scrapping of the mandatory coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing, except when required by the local government unit (LGU) of destination, as well as the need to go on quarantine unless the traveler shows symptoms.
“When we travel sinusunod namin yung mga travel requirements as respect na rin to the LGUs kaya nararamdaman namin kung gaano kahirap kapag maraming hinihinging documents. At least ngayon mas simple na ang requirements (we follow the travel requirements as respect to the LGUs so we know how hard it is when there are many documents needed. At least now, the requirements are simpler),” Puyat shared.
While many people are now confident to travel amid the pandemic, the tourism chief reiterated the need to strictly follow the minimum health protocols even during a vacation such as wearing face masks and face shields, maintaining physical distancing, and practicing proper hand hygiene.
“Kailangang meron pa rin na minimum health and saftey protocols lalo na ngayon na dumating na ang vaccine. Mabuti nang mas maingat para we are good to go (Following the minimum health and safety protocols is a must even during vacation especially now that the vaccine already arrived. It is better to be more careful),” she added.
Tourists were also reminded to always book with accommodation establishments and tour operators that are accredited by the Department of Tourism to ensure their health and safety during their trip.
Puyat said tourists from Metro Manila can still avail of its subsidized RT-PCR test at the Philippine General Hospital for as low as P900 to help reduce travel costs.