THE Department of Tourism (DOT) has proposed a shorter quarantine period for vaccinated tourists coming to the Philippines, as part of its “Green Lane” strategy.
“We are looking at shortening the quarantine from 10 days to seven days, especially for those vaccinated,” said Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat in a radio interview.
“I keep receiving texts everyday, especially from balikbayans [homecoming Filipinos], asking if they could come home since they’re already vaccinated. They’re eager to visit their relatives, but currently the quarantine is 10 days, which is a waste of your vacation,” she said in Filipino.
She added, the DOT constantly looks at our neighbors in Southeast Asia for guidance on best practices. “In Thailand, for fully vaccinated [tourists], they still have to quarantine though for seven days. In Hong Kong, the quarantine is also for seven days, but the tourists come from low-risk countries like New Zealand, Australia, and Singapore. So we brought it up to the IATF to look at it, and maybe we could benchmark against Thailand that the quarantine is only seven days.”
She noted a 10-day quarantine only increases the expenses of balikbayans, who also bring home presents for their friends and relatives, or give them money.
“But our real goal, since we have already started our vaccination, is ‘no quarantine’ at all. But that can only happen if we have more vaccinated people. In Thailand, they plan to vaccinate Phuket by 70 percent, so their target is by July, they can already accept tourists without quarantine,” said Romulo Puyat.
In a news statement, the DOT chief said she was optimistic about the prospect of setting up the “Green Lane” that will facilitate the entry of foreign visitors who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19, as part of the national government’s effort to reopen the economy.
“The Green Lane will pave the way for the reopening of our tourist destinations to leisure travelers who are now fully vaccinated. It will give the jobs back to many of our tourism workers and gradually revive the tourism industry under safe conditions,” said Romulo Puyat.
The IATF has tasked the DOT and several other agencies of the government to evaluate the possibility of implementing this inbound tourism strategy and formulate protocols for its implementation. The small working group co-chaired with the Department of Foreign Affairs, will also include the Bureau of Quarantine, the Bureau of Immigration, the Department of Information and Communications Technology, the Department of Transportation, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, and the Department of Trade and Industry.
“We must keep pace with our neighbors and the rest of the world in slowly reopening our tourist destinations. We must be ready for the visitors when the whole world is ready to safely travel again,” she stressed.