THE Department of Tourism (DOT) is not yet keen on requiring tourism enterprises to vaccinate their employees as a condition of their accreditation with the agency.

However, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat stressed, in a virtual presser on Saturday, that, “In NCR [National Capital Region], under an Alert Level System, you can only open if all your employees are fully vaccinated, and you can only accept dine-in [guests] if [staff] are fully vaccinated.”

She added, “Same with Bohol, it’s now under Alert Level 2, that’s the condition under IATF [Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases]. You can only open [your tourism enterprises] if your employees or the ones facing your customers are fully vaccinated. Those are labor laws; but this is the condition for the safe reopening, that people be vaccinated.”

Tourism leaders shared with the BusinessMirror that a number of resort workers in Bohol, for instance, refuse to get vaccinated. “Either they lose their jobs, or get assigned somewhere else where they don’t interact face-to-face with guests,” said one who requested anonymity, when the matter was raised with DOT officials.

Health officials in Central Visayas have reported a surplus in vaccines due to the slow response of their residents to vaccination. Bohol, along with Cebu are being eyed by the DOT and the tourism stakeholders for reopening to vaccinated foreign travelers. (See, “Select ‘gateways’ mulled for international tourists,” in the BusinessMirror, October 21, 2021.)

Citing an IATF Resolution issued on October 13, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III recently gave the private sector a legal justification to require their employees to get vaccinated, or else they won’t get paid their salaries,

‘It’s more fun with you’

The news conference was held to launch a new video welcoming back domestic tourists to leisure destinations. Created by BBDO Guerrero for the DOT and its marketing arm, the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB), the “It’s More Fun with You” video is part of the agency’s domestic tourism campaign dubbed “Have A Safe Trip, Pinas.” (View it on the TPB page https://bit.ly/3b7ocvw)

The ad encourages Filipinos to travel and explore the country again now that pandemic restrictions have been eased. The campaign also supports recovery initiatives and efforts of the tourism industry. The ad was shot in Ilocos Sur, Baler, and other destinations in Northern Luzon. It “will be rolled out not just on social media but on TV as well,” according to TPB COO Ma. Anthonette C. Velasco-Allones.

“Our latest ad highlights the joy of reuniting with loved ones and traveling with them to their favorite places, or visiting new spots where more memories will be made. ‘It’s more fun in the Philippines’ and it’ll even be more fun with you,” said Romulo Puyat. “With health and safety protocols in place, we can look forward to opening more tourism destinations in time for the holidays, and shift recovery into high gear,” she stressed.

DOT officials, however, ignored questions on how the agency would set up the scandal-riddled Dolomite Beach in Manila Bay this Christmas, or if the location would ever make an appearance in the agency’s ad campaigns.

Tourism stakeholders have been privately calling out the DOT-NCR for constantly pushing the Dolomite Beach as a major tourism attraction on its Facebook page. They also noted the regional office’s live-streaming of political events unrelated to tourism promotions. “Should the DOT-NCR be streaming the PDP-Laban oath-taking?” asked a veteran tour operator.

Meanwhile, Romulo Puyat noted, “Our tourist sites are gradually opening,” citing the Aklan governor’s recent announcement that Boracay Island will start accepting vaccinated tourists without requiring negative RT-PCR test results. She said, “In a month’s time, the tourism workers and residents will be 100-percent vaccinated.” Bohol has also done away with requiring negative RT-PCR test results if domestic tourists are vaccinated, she said.





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