Domestic tourism restart brings cheer to Philippine agents

Domestic tourism in the Philippines has reopened – and looks like it can be sustained to meet the pent-up demand after a long pandemic hiatus.

At least 16 local destinations including Boracay, Baguio, Bohol, Cebu City, Mandaue City and Roxas are foregoing PCR swab tests and quarantine for fully vaccinated tourists, as the number of infections decrease drastically and more residents and tourism frontliners are vaccinated.

Filipinos hit the road again as the Philippines restarts domestic tourism engine; domestic tourists throng a beach in Calayo, Batangas, Philippines during the pandemic pictured

“More local government units (LGUs) are simplifying their travel requirements as we see more of the country open up… and we look forward to more destinations applying a risk-based approach to travel, as we work together to instil safe and convenient travel within the Philippines,” said Candice Iyog, Cebu Pacific vice president for marketing and customer experience.

Residents are starting to travel again in time for the long All Saints’ Day holiday weekend and in the run up to the Christmas holidays. “I have movements already to the beach destinations of Siargao and Boracay and to the cooler clime of Baguio,” said Kasel Travel Solutions president, Eric George Papa.

“There has definitely been an uptick in domestic travel, but still a long way to go from where we were pre-pandemic. As more destinations ease access and continue to offer affordable rates, we might be able to sustain it,” said Tourism Congress of the Philippines president, Jojo Clemente.

“The only issue we anticipate is whether the VaxVertPh website is up to date as this will be the Covid-19 vaccination certification that will be accepted by LGUs,” Clemente shared.

The 40 staycation hotels in metro Manila are fully opened, tourism secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said at the launch last Sunday of It’s More Fun With You video, part of the domestic tourism campaign Have A Safe Trip, Philippines.

Under the alert level system of the granular lockdown which places the metro on Alert Level 3, staycation hotels can only open if all of their staff are fully vaccinated, said Romulo-Puyat.

Ritchie Tuano, immediate past president of the Philippine Travel Agencies Association, said: “Some of the agents are really happy with these developments and are keeping fingers crossed that this really is the start of the reopening. Safety is still of paramount consideration.”

Tourist attractions including museums and amusement parks have reopened with due consideration for carrying capacity and other safety guidelines while interzonal travel is now also allowed for kids and fully vaccinated seniors, allowing families to travel together safely and encouraging more Filipinos to secure their vaccination jabs, said Romulo-Puyat.

She expects more destinations to open in the run up to the holidays, and said that “as restrictions are lifted, more tourism workers and stakeholders will get back the jobs and livelihoods they lost due to the pandemic”.

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