Politics

Easing travel guidelines for vaccinated tourists sought

A lawmaker on Wednesday urged the Inter-agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) to finally lift the quarantine and RT-PCR test requirement for vaccinated local and foreign tourists as long as they have a pre-booked accommodation and a pre-arranged itinerary.

According to Party-list Rep. Ronnie Ong (Ang Probinsyano), the existing travel requirement imposed by the national government is slowing down the country’s recovery from the economic dislocation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, amid the reopening of premier local tourism destinations like Boracay, Coron, El Nido, Siargao, and Cebu.

“I think that it is about time that the IATF should relax some restrictions for fully-vaccinated tourists so that we can start rebooting this sector,” said Duterte.

Ong said to ensure that travelers are properly documented and properly monitored, their pre-booked accommodations must be made only in hotels and lodging houses certified by the Department of Tourism (DoT). He added that all hotel staff, guides, drivers, and other tourism personnel must also be fully vaccinated.

Ong stressed that since face-to-face interactions are expected to be only among vaccinated individuals—which reduces the risk of infection—he believes the government can already waive the RT-PCR requirement and quarantine for international travelers.

“The government should just make sure that their country of origin has no COVID surge or are listed as safe by the DoT,” he added.

Prior to the pandemic, tourism was a major boom to the Philippine economy—contributing 12.7 percent to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and generating 5.7 million new jobs nationwide.

Ong said the government needs to provide Philippine tourism an extra push to be able to recover following shutdowns and economic dislocation by many industries involved in the tourism sector.

“Sobrang bugbog ang turismo natin. While the government spends so much money on direct cash aids, business owners in the tourism sector are not really getting any support from the government.” (JCC)

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