THE Department of Tourism (DOT) looks at travel advisories issued by different governments as temporary and expressed confidence that the state’s vaccination program will contain the spread of the Covid-19 cases in the country.
In a news statement, the DOT said, “Travel advisories issued by different countries are transient and it is our fervent hope that the situation will improve sooner than anticipated, with the rollout of the vaccination program, and that families and friends will get the opportunity to travel safely back to the beautiful islands of the Philippines.”
This developed as the US State Department issued on April 20 a “Level 4” alert on the Philippines, making it a no-go destination for its citizens, due to “a very high level of Covid-19 in the country.” Level 4 is the highest travel alert of the State Department.
Earlier, the State Department said it would list 80 countries that Americans shouldn’t travel to, aligning it with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s epidemiological assessments. The Hong Kong government has also temporarily banned flights from the Philippines due to emergence of new Covid variants.
Safe Travels Stamp
The news of the travel advisory broke just as the DOT was awarding the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) Safe Travels Stamp to 33 accommodation establishments in six regions. Five of them are star-rated hotels, while 28 have regular accreditation from the DOT.
The Stamp is meant to show these destinations and establishments have adopted global standardized health protocols aligned with the WTTC is an association of private-sector tourism stakeholders with over 200 CEOs as members across the globe. Industry members include those from airports, airlines, cruise companies, destinations, tour operators, travel companies, online travel agencies, car rentals, hotels, digital players and travel services.
Strict health and safety protocols
The DOT said it was “one with all leaders, governments and their citizenry in observing every measure imposed in order to protect their constituents from the Covid-19 pandemic that has affected the lives of millions around the world.”
It added, “The vaccination drive of the national and local government units, complemented by the continuing adherence to the health and safety guidelines, is pivotal in arresting the number of cases in the country, an important factor in restoring travelers’ confidence.” As of April 20, the country recorded 953,106 total Covid cases with the addition of 7,379 cases. Of the total cases, 127,006 are active, and 809,959 have recovered. Of total cases, 16,141 persons have died.
It stressed, the agency “will continue to implement the health and safety protocols for all sectors of tourism, interfacing with international travel trade counterparts to sustain ‘top-of-mind’ level of awareness, and collaborating with global tourism advisory bodies and economies to ensure the smooth and safe resumption of international tourism.”
Meanwhile, during the virtual awarding ceremony for the WTTC Safe Travel Stamps, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat said, “We received more than 100 applications coming from the different regions [in March], which also include Mabuhay accommodation establishments and destinations. This surge of interest is reflective of their readiness to adopt to the new normal and desire to be globally recognized as a fun and ‘safe travels’ facility.” Seven hotels received their stamps early this year.
The new Stamp recipients are from Central Visayas (16), Mimaropa (9), Western Visayas (3), the Zamboanga Peninsula (3), the Cordillera Administrative Region (1), and the Davao Region (1). This brings the total number of Safe Travel Stamps recipients to 40.
Among the new recipients are Baguio Country Club, El Nido Resorts and Lio Estate properties, Bohol Beach Club and Bai Hotel in Cebu, Grand Astoria Hotel in Zamboanga City, and Seda Abreeza Hotel in Davao City.
In September 2020, the Philippines received the Stamp after being assessed as having in place, health and safety guidelines that are aligned with the WTTC’s core requirements. Subsequently, recipient countries take on the role as Safe Travel Ambassadors, advocating the implementation of the Safe Travel protocols and the enrollment of facilities and destinations.