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Harmonized protocols needed in tourism recovery

As several countries ease restrictions and air travel gradually resumes, the Philippines must now start harmonizing its coronavirus protocols for travelers.

“For us to move forward, the government agencies have to acknowledge the potential of the tourism industry and that’s the first and in doing so ensure the harmonization of efforts to open,” Aileen Clemente, president of Rajah Travel Corporation, said during the Arangkada Forum 2020 yesterday.

She said it is very important that “we make sure we have a harmonized implementation towards the opening.”

Compared to April 2020 when every border was almost closed, Clemente said the restrictions have since been relaxed.

“We started at 72 percent where every border was almost closed and not a lot of movement has happened, and now we’re down to 43 and 36 percent of those that are now just partially closed, and the rest have just put several travel restrictions so if you will look at the movement from April to September, this is already showing us that the borders are slowly opening,” she said.

The latest data from the Department of Foreign Affairs showed that 57 countries have already allowed entry while seven have no longer in-bound restrictions. Some 81 states also imposed a travel ban on tourists but allow entry based on exemptions.

Despite the pandemic’s effect on tourism, Clemente said the sector remains an important driver of economic growth especially now that the country tries to recover from the crisis’s impact.

“Tourism doesn’t go away it actually just mutates in the way that we offer tourism, in fact, the pent up demand for travel will give us a V-shape recovery rather than a U-shape recovery as predicted even by the World Travel & Tourism Council,” she said.

In the same forum, Tourism Undersecretary Benito Bengzon Jr. assured that the government is working towards standardization of travel protocols amid the new normal.

“We’ve had very lengthy discussions over the last couple of days on the matter of standardizing the protocols and requirements of the different destinations that have opened up,” he said. “We also realized that in order for domestic tourism to really get moving, we have to make it easier for the travelers, and this includes coming up with clear guidelines, standard guidelines in respect to protocols.”

Bengzon said the DOT will be meeting with the local government units, at least for the destinations that have already opened up, to come up with recommendations for uniform travel requirements, particularly on the test-before-travel rule.

On Tuesday, Tourism chief Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said the pilot uniform travel protocol app will be launched soon in Region 1*PNA

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