The Department of Tourism (DOT) said the Philippines is open to tie-up with neighboring countries to create “international travel bubbles” that would promote inter-country travel and tourism amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.
DOT Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said these international travel bubbles would require and demand strict enforcement of health and safety protocols through the establishment of proper infrastructures certified jointly with partner governments to ensure “symbiotic and harmonious results”.
“Whenever feasible, the Philippines is willing to tie-up with neighboring countries first with proximity as main consideration,” Puyat said. The return of overseas Filipinos who traveled back to the Philippines before the recent travel ban has served as a “dry-run” to the potential travel bubble with these countries, she shared.
With the Covid-19 pandemic still raging, Puyat said the DOT would continue to focus on local travel to reboot Philippine tourism this year. “Together with the Tourism Promotions Board, we will spearhead product diversification and enhancement activities with the regions and LGUs,” she added.
Puyat stressed the country’s entry protocols would have be strengthened in the light of the new Covid-19 variant, with the DOT working on the continued development of health and safety guidelines for the operations of tourism enterprises and activities.
She said that “with the improvement of community quarantine levels, efforts will be intensified to help revive tourism activities and restore job and livelihood opportunities.”
She assured local government units (LGU) which have reopened their destination to tourists, the DOT will assist them through the standardization of travel protocols and “harmonizing” different LGU requirements.
Puyat also stressed that to strengthen the country’s institutional and policy reforms and help prepare destinations for the new normal, 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.
Records show that last year, the Philippines only received 1,323,956 foreign visitors, a decline of 83.97 percent from the more than eight million arrivals the previous year.
The same records indicate that total receipts generated from inbound tourism in 2020 registered an estimated P81.40 billion, a 83.97% decline from the revenue receipts in 2019.