‘Almost all’ tourism destinations still require Covid tests — DOT chief

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat tries her hand pottery-making at The Crescent Moon Cafe and Studio Pottery in Antipolo. Due to its proximity to Metro Manila, Rizal province attracted 7.2 million tourism arrivals in 2020, despite the pandemic. (Photo courtesy BRPuyat)

MANY tourism destinations continue to require Covid tests from their visitors, even as the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) has removed a number of unnecessary documents from travelers’ lists.

In an online news conference on Wednesday from the Loreland Farm Resort in Antipolo, Rizal, where she distributed checks to beneficiaries of the Department of Tourism (DOT)-Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Bayanihan 2 Cash Assistance Program, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat said, “We basically simplified the requirements entering a tourist destination…except for Boracay, [there is] test before travel only if the LGU (local government unit) requires it. Also removed was the 14-day quarantine, unless you exhibit symptoms upon arrival at the destination, then that’s the time you will quarantine.”

She said destinations that continue to require RT-PCR tests include Boracay Island; Bohol; El Nido, Coron, San Vicente, and Puerto Princesa in Palawan; Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur; Pangasinan; Siargao; Siquijor;  Dumaguete; Iloilo City; and Cebu City — “almost all still require Covid tests.” A list of traveler’s requirements per destination can be accessed at the DOT’s travel app on https://bit.ly/3cdp2XA

Prior to the IATF decision to implement uniform travel guidelines in the country, she noted that aside from the Covid tests, travelers were also required to submit a medical certificate, Philippine National Police clearance, barangay clearance, and an affidavit of undertaking. “Aside from that, even if you have a negative Covid test result, [travelers were required] to quarantine for 14 days,” she added.

A recent travel survey commissioned by the DOT showed that among the deterrents to domestic tourism were the different  travel requirements in tourism destinations.

Cash aid for tourism workers

After the news conference, Romulo Puyat distributed checks to associations of Angono artists, local marching bands, Gaselle Travel and Tours, Samahan ng Nagkakaisa Para sa Kaunlaran ng Myseoul Tiangge, and pasalubong vendors, all from the province of Rizal. The checks, amounting to P5,000 each, were for the associations’s 911 members, who were among the beneficiaries of the DOT-DOLE cash assistance program.

“As of March 8, the total approved amount for cash assistance stands at P168.28 million, which I hope our tourism stakeholders and tourism workers use to help them get through this difficult time,” said the DOT chief.

Romulo Puyat visited various tourism sites in the province, which has reopened to domestic tourism.

“Being in close proximity to Metro Manila, Rizal province has long been a favored destination for land travelers,” she noted. “In the past year, Rizal province recorded 7.2 million same-day tourism arrivals and 395,364 overnight tourism arrivals, helping it emerge as the top contributor for overnight tourism arrivals in the [Calabarzon] region and accounting for 36 percent of the region’s total tourism arrivals. The province is also the top contributor for same-day tourism arrivals in 2020, generating 60 percent of the region’s total [same-day] tourism arrivals.”

Romulo Puyat also said there were 11 ongoing tourism infrastructure projects in partnership with the Department of Public Works and Highways, aimed at providing better access to tourist sites such as the Bunsuran Falls and Mystical Cave, both in Antipolo.

Tourism establishments in Rizal, which received their provisional certificates of accreditation numbered 108, of which 30 were in Antipolo.

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