100% vaxxed tourism workers by Christmas

The Department of Tourism sees the recovery of the tourism industry finally pushing forward as more tourism workers get vaccinated.
In file photo: Tourism Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat (left) and Intramuros Administrator Atty. Guiller B. Asido make their way inside the Baluarte de San Diego on the first day of its reopening to visitors. The tourist site will be open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 pm, and shall accommodate a maximum of 80 persons at any given time. Other attractions open in Intramuros are Fort Santiago and Plaza San Luis.

THE Department of Tourism (DOT) sees the recovery of the tourism industry finally pushing forward as more tourism workers get vaccinated.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday after touring Intramuros, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat said, “It’s better now [despite being under Alert Level 4], because at least there are more people who are vaccinated. So hopefully this [recovery] moves forward. At least tourism workers are vaccinated.”

About 1.5 million tourism workers have lost their jobs due to travel restrictions imposed to contain the spread of Covid-19.

The DOT continues to vaccinate tourism workers in many leisure destinations. As of September 10, 2021, it reported 126,097 tourism workers from the A1 and A4 priority groups already completed their Covid-19 vaccine doses, or 51.4 percent of the target 245,338 tourism workers for jabs nationwide.

The National Capital Region (NCR) registered the most number of vaccinated tourism workers at 94 percent, followed by the Davao Region at 88 percent, and the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) at 80 percent.

She said, about 74 percent of tourism workers in Boracay are already vaccinated: “Hopefully by next week it will be 100 percent. In Baguio, 100 percent are already vaccinated. I hope before Christmas, tourism workers in the country will be 100 percent vaccinated.”

Baguio to accept only vaxxed tourists

Romulo Puyat said she was assured by National Task Force against Covid-19 Deputy Chief Implementer Vivencio Dizon that “more vaccines are coming.” She added that Cebu will likely be the next focus of DOT and NTF’s vaccination of tourism workers. Other vaccination programs were undertaken in Bohol, Pampanga, Palawan, Siargao, and Baguio City.

Under Alert Level 4, residents in NCR between 18 and 65 years old, are able to travel to leisure destinations under general community quarantine (GCQ) or modified GCQ status, subject to the local government requirements for tourists. (See, “Family vacations thrown a monkey wrench anew with age travel restrictions,” in the BusinessMirror, September 14, 2021.)

In Baguio, said Romulo Puyat, only vaccinated tourists will be accepted starting September 20. In Boracay, the LGU still requires an RT-PCR test for tourists’ entry.

“As we work to secure more vaccine doses that will help us achieve a 100-percent vaccination rate among tourism workers in the A1 and A4 priority groups, I am also encouraging our workers to submit themselves for vaccination especially with the presence of the Delta variant,” she said.

Tourism frontliners under the A1 priority group are those working in accommodation establishments temporarily operating as quarantine hotels or isolation facilities, while those under A4 are workers in other tourism enterprises and tourism support services.

‘Lift age requirements for outdoor tourism’

Meanwhile, Romulo Puyat said she has requested the Inter-Agency Task Force against Emerging Infectious Diseases to lift age restrictions for those who want to visit outdoor tourist attractions like the Rizal Park, which reopened for only four hours in the morning starting September 16.

“Maybe they [IATF] can allow those above 65 to visit even if there are specific times allotted for them like 6 to 8 in the morning, for exercise,” she said.

She also assured the public that workers in Intramuros are already “99 percent vaccinated” so it was safe to visit. However, only 150 guests at a time can visit, unlike prior to the pandemic, Intramuros was accepting about 10,000 visitors a day. Only three sites in Intramuros were reopened on Thursday—Fort Santiago, Baluarte de San Diego, and Plaza San Luis—under shorting visiting hours.

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