Department of Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat is batting for standard travel protocols for ease of travel around the country. “We strongly support the proposal for LGUs to adopt a uniform set of guidelines, listing the requirements and step-by-step procedure for compliance of visitors to tourist destinations,” she said.
Puyat cited the VIS.I.TA digital travel app currently being used by the Ridge to Reef travel corridor of Baguio City, Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur. This has proven effective not only as a contact tracing and visitor capacity control mechanism but also for planning and research purposes. “We want all destinations to take advantage of this digital system for free, through our attached agency, the Tourism Promotions Board (TBP).”
She said standard travel protocols that the LGUs can adopt may include Covid-19 Test-before-travel or test-upon-arrival options, the validity of the required Covid-19 test, confirmed hotel reservation with a DOT-accredited accommodation establishment, confirmed round-trip plane tickets, and tour itinerary with a DOT-accredited tour operator.
Some LGUs also demand medical clearances and travel authorities. “Since tourists would wish to visit several destinations, it is confusing and cumbersome if LGUs have different apps, protocols and requirements to comply with. Thus, uniformity should make travel plans a lot easier and ultimately, more fun.”
Nonetheless, the DOT defers to the LGUs’ decision when to reopen their destinations. “After all, it is the host destination that reaps the benefits of a well-planned, ‘all-systems-go’ restart; and vice-versa, the ill consequences of a hastened, premature reopening.”
The DOT lauds LGUs for their efforts in reopening safe tourist destinations all over the country in answer to the increasing interest in travel and tour activities.
“We are truly impressed with the efforts of the LGUs for extending a hand to our tourism industry stakeholders in getting back on their feet again, as well as making available safe tourism sites to our fellow Filipinos who long for outdoor activities.”
Puyat complimented the LGUs’ strict implementation of their respective health and safety protocols, even as a consensus developed among the members of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) for “uniform travel requirements” that are within the existing omnibus interim guidelines.
The Task Force, in its meeting yesterday, Dec. 14, agreed on the amendments summarized as follows: 1) mandating clinical and exposure assessment for travelers; 2) simplifying and condensing the pathways into two algorithms—for inbound international travelers and interzonal domestic travelers; 3) providing LGUs a free hand to determine appropriate protocols aligned with the omnibus interim guidelines; and, 4) enjoining implementing agencies to issue necessary supplementary guidelines.