The Department of Tourism (DOT) is crossing its fingers for the gradual revival of the country’s tourism industry as it welcomes the decision of the government’s pandemic task force to ease travel restrictions in the national capital region (NCR)-plus bubble.
“The easing of restrictions in NCR-plus is good news for our tourism stakeholders. This means more tourism workers will go back to work, and economic activities will continue,” Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said in a statement on Friday, May 14.
“Needless to say, there is no room for complacency. We need to observe the health and safety protocols in every destination that we wish to visit,” she added.
Under resolution no. 115-A of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, Metro Manila, Bulacan, Rizal, Laguna, and Cavite—collectively known as NCR-plus—will be placed under the more lax general community quarantine (GCQ) with “heightened restrictions” from May 15 to 30.
While only essential travel is allowed going to and from the NCR-plus, the resolution permitted the implementation of “specialized markets” of the DOT such as the point-to-point (P2P) air travel for leisure purposes and the staycation program.
In the latest administrative order issued by the DOT, P2P Air Travel is allowed for tourists from the NCR-plus going to a GCQ or modified GCQ (MGCQ) area, provided that “such travel must be undertaken through a chartered flight, which may involve short, private transfers by land or sea.”
The DOT also noted that only accommodation establishments granted with a certificate of authority to operate for P2P travel may accept guests originating from NCR-plus.
Those who will avail of P2P leisure travel will still be required to present a negative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test result taken within 48 hours before check-in, as well as medical clearance for immuno-compromised travelers and those over 65 years old.
Meanwhile, staycation for individuals aged 18 to 65 has also been allowed for accommodation establishments in the NCR-plus as long as they have a certificate of authority to operate for staycation.
The use of amenities, as well as organized activities of tourists, are also allowed subject to strict observance of the minimum health protocols and maximum allowable capacity set by the DOT and other agencies.
All service providers such as tour guides and transport operators are also required to undergo coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing to ensure the safety of guests.
Aside from accommodations, the IATF resolution has also given the green light for outdoor tourist attractions to operate at 30 percent capacity, but still with strict adherence to government’s health guidelines.
Indoor dine-in services can now also operate at 20 percent of venue or seating capacity, while alfresco dining will be allowed up to 50 percent capacity.
“We are taking every little opening possible under the current quarantine condition. Every step, big or small, will support our tourism workforce and sustain our industry,” the tourism chief emphasized.