A lawmaker on Wednesday urged the Inter-agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases to finally lift the quarantine and RT-PCR test requirements for vaccinated local and foreign tourists as long as they have a pre-booked accommodation and a pre-arranged itinerary.
Although premier tourism destinations like Boracay, Coron, El Nido, Siargao, and Cebu are slowly opening up to tourists, Rep. Ronnie Ong of the AP Party-list said restrictive and expensive travel requirements is slowing down the country’s recovery from the economic dislocation caused by the pandemic.
Ong, in a news statement, said the government has to provide Philippine tourism an extra push to be able to recover following shutdowns and economic dislocation by many industries involved in the tourism sector.
Before the pandemic, he said, tourism is a major boon to the Philippine economy, contributing a 12.7 percent share to the country’s gross domestic product and generating 5.7 million new jobs nationwide.
According to Ong, areas that will be open to tourism must be made in areas with alert levels equivalent to modified general community quarantine and general community quarantine.
The lawmaker said that to ensure that travelers are properly documented and properly monitored, their pre-booked accommodations must be made only in hotels and lodging houses certified by the Department of Tourism (DOT).
He, however, said that all hotel staff, guides, drivers, and other tourism personnel must be also fully vaccinated.
“I believe that we are ready to open our tourism to local and international travelers who have been vaccinated. We just have to make sure that that they only come in contact with people who are also vaccinated to minimize the possibility of transmission. The key in doing this properly is strict monitoring and documentation,” Ong said.
“Since we expect that face-to-face interaction will be only among vaccinated individuals which reduces the risk of infection, I think that we can skip the RT-PCR requirement and quarantine for international travelers. For foreign tourists, the government should just make sure that their country of origin has no Covid surge or are listed as safe by the DOT,” Ong added.
Image courtesy of Lyn Resurreccion