DOT-Bicol plans reopening of tourism sites to ‘outsiders’

AGRI-TOURISM. A boy poses for a shot with Mt. Mayon in the background in an agri-tourism site in Daraga, Albay. Fe Buela, Department of Tourism-Bicol officer-in-charge, on Wednesday (Oct. 21, 2020) said they will soon reopen over a hundred tourism sites to visitors from outside the region. (Photo by Connie Calipay)

LEGAZPI CITY – The opening of over a hundred tourism sites in Bicol to domestic tourists from other regions would depend on the outcome of a tourism stakeholders’ meeting set next week by the local Department of Tourism (DOT) office.

Fe Buela, DOT Bicol, officer-in-charge, said plans are being ironed out in consultation with local government units and industry stakeholders, especially with regard to their respective travel and health protocols in case the different tourism sites are reopened to domestic travelers.

She said in a phone interview on Wednesday that in the initial talks, some LGUs were amenable to reopening their tourism sites to visitors from other regions on conditions that travel and health protocols are strictly enforced. “Camarines Sur has agreed to open their tourism destination,” she added.

Buela said they are working out plans on gradually resuming travel and tour activities on a “pilot” basis in the region.

She said the DOT will also be consulting the Bicol Regional Tourism Council (BRTC) in drawing up tourism events and safety nets to recover the multi-million pesos of revenue losses due to the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.

Buela said the opening of the tourism sites would take place soon once the agreement with LGUs and the BRTC is approved.

Last month, 104 sites across the region were opened including beach resorts, island destinations, natural tourism areas (mountain, waterfalls, and river cruising), cultural and historical places, and landmark sites, but only to Bicolanos.

Buela said the tourism sites allowed to operate were directed to strictly enforce the minimum health requirements by the Inter-Agency Task Force including the wearing of face mask, face shield, washing of hands, and physical distancing. (PNA)

Eased travel movement between GCQ, MGCQ areas welcomed

MANILA – The Department of Tourism (DOT) on Friday welcomed the amended guidelines from the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) on the easing of movement of persons traveling between areas under general community quarantine (GCQ) and modified general community quarantine (MGCQ).

Under IATF Resolution No. 79, “the interzonal movement of non-authorized persons outside residences (non-APOR) between areas placed under GCQ and MGCQ for any purpose shall be permitted subject to the reasonable regulations imposed by the local government unit (LGU) concerned, if any, and which should be submitted to the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), or in the case of Boracay Island, subject to those imposed by the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force (BIATF).”

During the 79th meeting of the task force, the body also approved the recommendation to gradually expand the age group allowing individuals from 15-years old to 65-years old to go out of their residence.

“These new policies, approved by the IATF, support the Department’s programs aimed at rebuilding the tourism industry to bring back lost jobs and livelihoods and stir local economies,” DOT Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said in a news release.

The amended guidelines will empower local government units to reopen their respective destinations to more areas outside their province or region with the minimum health and safety measures in place, Puyat said.

This will also complement the DOT’s strategy to develop tourism circuits and travel corridors, such as the Ridge and Reef Corridor Plan between Baguio City and the provinces of Region 1, to help revive tourism under the new normal.

On October 15, Ilocos Norte welcomed residents of Luzon for leisure travel. Last October 1, Boracay Island extended its reopening to all local travelers, even those coming from GCQ areas.

Both areas have required a negative RT-PCR test before travel, online registration and health declaration at their respective LGU websites, and issuance of a QR code for contactless transactions and contact tracing purposes, from travelers before entry.

As stated in the amended guidelines, Boracay Island’s regulations will still follow those set by the BIATF.

“The flexible travel movements, however, do not mean that we will be relaxing our health standards. We will continue to work with the LGUs in enforcing safety protocols and enhanced hygiene measures in all sectors of the tourism industry.” Puyat said. (DOT PR)

Gov’t to allow non-essential outbound travel starting Oct. 21

OUTBOUND TRAVEL. A woman and two children, donning face masks and shield, arrive at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in this file photo. Non-essential outbound travel of Filipinos is now allowed effective October 21, Malacañang said Friday. (PNA photo by Avito C. Dalan)

MANILA – The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) has lifted its ban on non-essential outbound travel of Filipinos effective October 21, Malacañang said Friday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Filipinos intending to travel abroad as tourists must have adequate travel and health insurance.

Travelers must also submit confirmed roundtrip tickets and negative antigen test results for Covid-19.

“They may be allowed to leave the country subject to the submission of confirmed roundtrip tickets and adequate travel and health insurance for those traveling in tourist visas, execution of an immigration declaration acknowledging the risks involved in traveling and a negative Antigen result taken within 24 hours before departure, subject to the Department of Health (DOH) guidelines,” Roque said.

Outbound Filipino travelers shall likewise follow the Guidelines of the National Task Force (NTF) for returning overseas Filipinos. (PNA)

Russia allows Filipinos to apply for e-visa starting 2021

MANILA – The Philippines is included among 53 countries eligible to apply for Russia’s new e-visa program, which allows holders to enter and travel to more destinations.

“Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin has signed a directive approving a list of countries whose citizens can apply for e-visas. The list comprises the 52 countries, including the Philippines, whose citizens could apply for an e-visa during the pilot stage of the project,” the Russian embassy in Manila said in an announcement dated October 8.

In 2017, a similar e-visa project was launched but with certain restrictions. It only allowed e-visa holders to enter Russia through checkpoints in the Far Eastern Federal District, St. Petersburg and the Leningrad and Kaliningrad regions. They were likewise barred to travel outside these regions.

The new e-visa policy, effective starting 2021, broadens travel across Russia.

“Foreigners can enter via the specially equipped checkpoints anywhere in the country and travel throughout Russia. In addition to this, the duration of a stay for foreigners has been extended from eight to 16 days,” the embassy said.

“Starting from 2021, Filipinos will have an easy way to visit Russia,” it added. E-visas will be issued online for tourism, business, humanitarian, and guest trips.

According to the embassy, applicants do not need an invitation, hotel booking, or any other documents to confirm their reasons for travel. The consular fee is USD40 but free for children aged under six. (PNA)

Gov’t tackles resumption of ride-hailing motorcycle taxis

MANILA – The government has discussed the resumption of operations of ride-hailing motorcycle taxis to provide adequate mass transportation for healthcare workers and returning employees amid the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.

National Policy against Covid-19 chief implementer Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. on Thursday said members of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) and the National Task Force on Covid-19 met with President Rodrigo Duterte to discuss the increase in the operation of public utility vehicles and allow ride-hailing motorcycle companies to resume ride-booking services.

“The recommendation [was] to ensure adequate mass transportation for health workers and general workers as we open up more economy and to empower citizens to regain their livelihood and sustainable incomes,” Galvez said during the virtual launching of the “Ingat Angat Tayong Lahat” campaign.

Meanwhile, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque also mentioned that the IATF has already endorsed the resumption of the Angkas’ operation.

“We also welcome the further contributions on how to improve the transportation sector,” Roque said, as he cited various assistance offered by the private sector to the government in order to respond to the pandemic.

“I think that would be something that can be agreed upon on the basis of consensus in the upcoming full Cabinet meeting,” Roque said, referring to the government’s plan to improve public transportation amid the pandemic.

Public-private partnership

On the other hand, Galvez vowed that the government will continue supporting the businesses as the country gradually shifts to the new normal.

Galvez said the private sector and various businesses have helped the government deal with the unprecedented challenges posed by the health crisis.

He also cited the huge contribution of the private sector to the government’s efforts to ramp up the country’s testing capacity and treating capability, including the PHP2 million worth of personal protective equipment (PPE) sets donation, which he said helped secure the safety of medical professionals and other healthcare workers.

“As we enter the third phase of the national action plan against Covid-19, the government will be banking again (on) the continued support (of) the business community — as we shift towards the full opening of our economy — as we have emphasized from time to time, we cannot afford to let our guard down at this crucial stage,” Galvez said.

The chief implementer said the launching of the Ingat Angat Tayong Lahat campaign is “timely and very crucial” in the country’s battle against the dreaded virus.

“This initiative will enable us to harness the bayanihan spirit between public and private sector in rebuilding our economy,” Galvez said. “It is very important for the national government, private sector, and the local government units to work together as a team, as we revive our economy by being mindful of health safety.”

Galvez assured that the government will work double-time to implement all necessary strategies in order to bring down the number of Covid-19 active and new cases on the ground.

“This is to ensure and allow our economy to fully recover 100 percent,” he said.

Further, Galvez reiterated that the public should not be complacent.

“Although there are very good signs that the Covid-19 curve is flattening and the cases are steadily declining, particularly in the NCR [National Capital Region], we cannot afford to let our guard down, we cannot be complacent at this crucial time,” he said. “We really need the support of the private sector to educate our people.”

The “Ingat Angat Tayong Lahat” campaign is a collective initiative by some of the biggest corporations and brands across various industries in the country.

It was also established to encourage various businesses to prioritize health and safety while expanding their operations. (PNA)

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