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Sunday, October 25, 2020

Jump Starting Philippine Tourism

While the government is optimistic about opening the door for Philippine tourism, others express safety concerns

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George Buid
George Buidhttp://www.georgebuid.com/
An independent photojournalist of the Philippines capturing life as it passes by. He contributes to different news outlet and press publications.

PHILIPPINES. The Department of Tourism Sec. Bernadette Romulo-Puyat is ready to open Philippine tourism. They will only allow tourists from countries with zero to low numbers of COVID-19 cases.

Sec. Bernadette Romulo-Puyat of Department of Tourism in Isabela.
Image by George Buid ©2020

Optimism based on the performance report. Romulo-Puyat said that the tourism sector should recover well from the three months of quarantine. A return to tourism will bring back millions of jobs, which is 13.5 percent of Philippine total employment. The government has already allowed travel agencies to operate in areas under general community quarantine (GCQ). The tourism sector was a casualty of the pandemic in the Philippines.

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Tourist destinations close their doors. Popular tourist destinations are not yet ready to open, however, said by Sec. Romulo-Puyat on 2 Jun. 2020. Popular destinations such as are Baguio City, Bohol, and Boracay currentlyhave zero cases of infection, Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong, prefers to open in September. A modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) will allow travel under restrictions.

The public reaction to tourism. In an interview with Transcontinental Times Voltaire Fernandez Domingo, Co-founder of Next Pictures Pressphoto Agency (NPPA Images), thinks this is a terrible idea. He said, “We haven’t contained the virus, and there is no vaccine developed yet. You can only open tourism if you can do mass testing. Let’s say you’re going to Boracay. When you go to the airport there should be a Rapid Test, at the very least. You arrive at Boracay. You test again after you arrive in Boracay. It is costly.”

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A tourist also disagrees with the decision to open Philippine tourism. He doesn’t see how it can take off as other countries have quarantine restrictions, a source shared with Transcontinental Times.

The solution should be dynamic. What can be the solution for Philippine tourism?  The Regional Director of Swiss-Belhotel International Garry Garcia, previous Vice-President of the 1st Philippine Tourism Congress, told Transcontinental Times, “Philippine tourism right now is thinking of binary. Either we open or we close. You only look at that if the problem is something that can immediately resolve overnight. Meaning, you have the COVID-19 virus today, tomorrow it is gone. It is what I mean by binary. We close if the virus is still here. If the virus is not anymore here, then we open. As the COViD-19 issue is an ongoing thing and still changes every day. By the very nature itself, the virus mutates. Philippine tourism should be dynamic with the ongoing pandemic.”

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