Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said the Philippines is willing to tie-up with neighboring countries to create “international travel bubbles” that would allow for international travel and tourism amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.
In a statement Tuesday, Puyat said these international travel bubbles would demand strict enforcement of health and safety protocols through the establishment of proper infrastructure that is certified by both governments to ensure “symbiotic and harmonious results”.
“Whenever feasible, the Philippines is willing to tie-up with neighboring countries first with the main consideration of proximity,” Puyat said.
The return of overseas Filipinos who traveled back to the Philippines before the recent travel ban, she said, has served as a “dry-run” to the potential travel bubble with these countries.
Local travelers to reboot PH tourism
With no end yet in sight for the Covid-19 pandemic, she said the DOT would continue to focus on local travelers to reboot Philippine tourism for 2021.
“Together with the Tourism Promotions Board, we will spearhead product diversification and enhancement activities with the regions and LGUs,” Puyat said.
With the fear of possible transmission of the new Covid-19 variant, she said the country’s entry protocols would have be strengthened, with the DOT working on the continued development of health and safety guidelines for the operations of tourism enterprises and activities.
“Hopefully, with the improvement of community quarantine levels, efforts will be intensified to help revive tourism activities and restore job and livelihood opportunities,” Puyat said.
For local destinations reopened by their respective local government units (LGU) to tourists, she said the DOT will assist through the standardization of travel protocols and “harmonizing” different LGU requirements.
“To ensure good traveler experience, protocols for each tourism activity should be developed,” Puyat said.
This could be made possible through further development of the Philippine Travel applications to integrate other local and national government systems and platforms and become a “super app that more travelers can rely on”, she said.
To strengthen the country’s institutional and policy reforms and help prepare destinations for the new normal, she said the National Tourism Development Plan 2016-2022 will be aligned with the Tourism Response and Recovery Plan —the tourism industry’s “blueprint for recovery”.
“Recalibration of targets and refocusing to domestic tourism in the short term will be carried out. Such plans will also need to be in harmony with the NEDA’s Ambisyon 2040 and Philippine Development Plan,” Puyat said.
From January to December 2020, the Philippines only received 1,323,956 foreign visitors, a decline of 83.97 percent from the over eight million arrivals in the same period in 2019, according to DOT data.
Total receipts generated from inbound tourism in 2020 registered an estimated PHP81.40 billion, a decline of 83.97 percent from the 8,260,913 in the same period in 2019. (PNA)