The Philippine government will try to learn from its neighbor Thailand as the latter opens up to fully vaccinated foreign tourists for the first time since the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic last year.
"Tinitingnan din po natin ang magiging karanasan ng Thailand dahil isa siya sa pinakauna na nagbukas ng turismo (We will look at the experience of Thailand because it is among the first to reopen its tourism industry)?" Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a virtual press conference Friday, Nov. 5.
Roque noted that the economy of Philippines, like Thailand, is dependent on its revenues from tourism, which took a big hit the world over due to the emergence of the deadly COVID-19 early last year.
"Kaya lang mas dependent talaga sila sa tourism ‘no kung ikukumpara sa atin (But compared to us, they're really more dependent on their tourism)," he said.
Still, stakes are high for Philippine tourism to get back on its feet as soon as possible, especially with the local hosting of the World Travel and Tourism Council Global Summit in March 2022.
Asked by a reporter if the Philippine government plans to reopen to international tourists in time for next year’s event, Roque replied: "Tama po kayo, pupuwedeng mangyari iyan ‘no. Pero kaya nga po, kinakailangan ma-achieve natin ang population protection by December (Yes you're correct, that could happen. But that's why we need to achieve population protection by December)."
The nationwide vaccination rate against COVID-19 stands at around 37 percent (full vaccination).
Over in the National Capital Region (NCR), nearly 89 percent of the eligible population has been fully vaccinated. This high rate of vaccination along with the plummeting daily new cases have allow the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) to de-escalate the region’s status from alert level 3 to alert level 2.
"So in due time po. We will open tourism in due time ‘no. At ngayon nga po na alert level 2 (And now that we're under alert level 2), that’s very encouraging," Roque said.