A key strategy in reviving the Philippines tourism industry amidst the pandemic is setting up tourism "bubbles."
These travel bubbles, or corridors, are an exclusive agreement of easing travel restrictions to boost domestic tourism in areas that have recorded a low number of coronavirus cases.
Undersecretary of the Department of Tourism (DOT) Benito Bengzon Jr. stated that establishing tourism bubbles in Baguio City and its neighboring provinces proved to encourage more movement of domestic tourists.
After the mayor of Baguio released Executive Order No. 50-A, tourists could enter Baguio coming from GCQ and MGCQ areas.
"Eventually, the idea is to expand internationally," Bengzon said.
Furthermore, he added that they are also considering "short-haul markets", particularly in Japan and South Korea, once the travel restrictions are eased. The said countries expressed interest in establishing bubbles in some tourists destination in the Philippines.
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"They have expressed a lot of interest in doing bubbles in Boracay, Cebu, and Bohol, " Bengzon said, as Visayas tourists destination already had experience in chartering these groups before the pandemic happened.
"The brand recognition is there and it will be easy enough to develop such bubbles when the restriction is lifted," he added.
Meanwhile, Tourism Sec. Romulo-Puyat urges all hotels and accredited tourism businesses to get a "safety seal" certification to attract safety-conscious travellers and provide additional proof that they observe the minimum public health protocols.
"Although it means you are already following the minimum health and safety protocols as long as you are DOT-accredited, this is more of an added seal of good housekeeping. It's voluntary anyway and all of the DOT-accredited hotels may apply to this," said Tourism Sec. Romulo-Puyat.
The DOT focuses primarily on tourism enterprises (TEs) in having a Safety Seal Certificate, which ensures that the establishment is compliant with the minimum public health standards (MPHS), and adopted the StaySafe.ph application in contact tracing.
Tourism Enterprises (TEs) includes:
- Hotels, resorts, and other accommodation establishments.
- Travel and tour services.
- Meetings, incentives, conferences & events (MICE).
- Venues/facilities and restaurants inside hotels or resorts.
Sec. Romulo-Puyat emphasizes the seal is not mandatory but would help strengthen the government's contact-tracing system.
For TE applicants, the DOT will create a microsite that will carry the following information:
- Implementing guidelines of the safety seal certification program
- Checklist for the type of establishments covered by the issuing authority
- Contact details of inspection units, downloadable safety seal toolkit
- List of all establishments issued with a safety seal, including status (active, revoked, reinstated)
- Complaint hotlines
- Request form for reassessment or reinstatement of safety seal.
The validity of the certificate is one year. If the establishment is non-compliant with the minimum public health protocols, the certificate would be revoked from them.
Sources: DOT, PNA, Inquirer.Net