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Tourism gets shot in the arm as vaccination of frontliners in NCR, Bohol, Boracay ramped up

By Tanya Lara Published Aug 24, 2021 6:05 pm

One of the country’s growth sectors that got the biggest hit by the pandemic and struggling to survive the lockdowns, the tourism and hospitality sector is getting a shot in the arm to fight back.

The Department of Tourism (DOT) reported that as of Aug. 20, 95% of tourism workers in NCR have been vaccinated. Earlier this month, Bohol also rolled out its second inoculation phase with 75% tourism workers eyed, while Boracay has administered at least one dose on more than 50% of target workers on the island.

In NCR, a total of 27,708 tourism frontliners out of 29,066 have been inoculated against COVID-19, according to Tourism Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat.

Tourism workers are categorized as those who work in quarantine/isolation facilities and DOT-accredited hotels and resorts, tour guides, employees of travel agencies, tour operators, tourism transport, restaurants, and MICE-related businesses.

Loboc River, Bohol. 

In NCR, 19,350 of these workers are from the A1 priority group while those from the A4 sector comprised the remaining 8,358 workers. Both groups are employed in quarantine/isolation facilities, multiple-use hotels, and staycation hotels that are accredited by the Department of Tourism (DOT).

“The inoculation of our tourism frontliners is a big step towards the recovery of the industry,” Puyat said. 

She also noted the contribution of industry associations such as the Hotel Sales and Marketing Association (HSMA) in ensuring the successful turnout of the initiative.  “This near-100% inoculation (in NCR) took a whole-of-government approach and could not have been accomplished without our national and local government leaders, as well as our partners from the private sector who supported the program in the spirit of Bayanihan,” Puyat said. 

About 2,778 out of the 4,565 workers in DOT-Accredited restaurants in the 13 cities of NCR (61%) have received their COVID-19 vaccines. 

 The DOT said the challenges in inoculating 100 percent of tourism frontliners lie in the employees' refusal to be vaccinated and vaccine brand preference.  Other reasons include work-from-home setup of some tourism workers, pregnancy, and comorbidities (e.g. allergies to medicine, hypertension). 

In Bohol, 3,760 more active tourism workers in Bohol were set to be inoculated following the second vaccination rollout in the province in August. This brings the total number of tourism workers for inoculation in the province to 9,920 or 76% of the 13,000 target.

As of Aug. 11, the latest vaccine delivery was 5,000 Sinovac, 2,520 Moderna and 10,000 Pfizer doses covering both the first and second doses.

The first vaccination roll-out for tourism frontliners in the province was carried out on June 18.

Bohol has a total of 402 DOT-accredited enterprises covering accommodation establishments (AEs), health and wellness facilities, as of July 31. The data is a big jump of 148.88 percent from 132 establishments that were accredited in the same period last year. 

White Beach, Boracay.

Twelve resorts and spas in Bohol have also received the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) Safe Travels Stamp majority of which are located in Panglao Island, namely: Amarela Resort, Amorita Resort, Amun Ini Resort and Spa, BE Grand Resort Bohol, Best Western Plus – The Ivywall Resort Panglao, Bluewater Panglao Beach Resort, Bohol Beach Club, Loboc River Resort, Mithi Resort and Spa, Modala Resort, South Palms Resort Panglao, and The Bellevue Resort.

In Boracay, 7,634 frontline workers and other tourism-related workers started the inoculation of the targeted 12,809.

“Inoculating our tourism frontliners all over the country will be a key factor in reopening the industry as well as restore the public's confidence to travel, translating to higher socio-economic activities and boosting our recovery prospects. I call for public and private entities to practice the Bayanihan spirit in furthering the vaccination of our tourism workers," Puyat explained. 

The DOT also seeks to speed up the vaccination of tourism workers in tourist destinations that are not included in the NCR Plus 8, which is comprised of the National Capital Region (NCR), Metro Cebu, Metro Davao, Bulacan, Batangas, Cavite, Laguna, Pampanga, and Rizal—areas that were identified by the government as the most populous and with the highest density, which makes them at greater risk for COVID-19 transmission.

The tourist destinations prioritized by the DOT are El Nido, Coron and San Vicente, Palawan (16,000); Puerto Princesa City (15,000); Siargao (13,150) bringing the number of the DOT’s target vaccine recipients to 69,959.