Paid post by Department of Tourism Philippines

Tourism

The Philippines puts safety first as it carefully reopens for tourism

STEADY AS YOU GO

The Philippines puts safety first as it carefully reopens for tourism

As lockdown restrictions gradually ease and a new normal takes root, the Philippines’ renowned tourism industry is determined to get back on its feet.

Boracay is welcoming visitors from Western Visayas to its glistening beaches again. Postcard-perfect Palawan is testing out domestic tourism on a limited capacity. Mountain sanctuary Baguio is not far behind, as officials intend to carefully reopen the city in September.

Tourism is worth 13 percent of the GDP of the Philippines, and stakeholders everywhere are eager to rev its engines again. While mass tourism might be in the rearview, safe and secure travel is close ahead, thanks to the hard work of Filipinos and clear guidance from the relevant authorities.

Hotel safety guidelines in the Philippines

  • All hotels must offer personal protective equipment such as face masks or face shields, alcohol-based hand sanitizer and disposable gloves at receptions desks
  • Officials suggest replacing buffets and room service with grab-and-go stations, where guests pick up breakfast or the food they have ordered for in-room dining
  • Only single- and double-occupancy rooms are allowed for the time being
  • Strict physical distancing controls will remain in place across properties
  • Guests and staff are urged to use the traditional “Mabuhay” gesture over handshakes
  • Tourism-centered businesses must secure a Certificate of Authority to Operate from the Department of Tourism
  • Rooms and surfaces are thoroughly disinfected after guests check out, from the furniture and appliances to the flooring

New guidelines provided by the government are already taking shape at several top destinations currently under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ).

Image courtesy of Coast Boracay

Baguio, the so-called City of Pines in Northern Luzon, holds a special place in the hearts of Filipinos. Surrounded by the tropical pines that lend the destination its nickname, the city has become the summer capital of the Philippines. Every year, travelers flock to Baguio to breathe in the fresh air, savor its plump strawberries, dip into its many hot springs, ride horses or simply enjoy its unique local flavor in villages like Tam-Awan, where recreated Cordillera huts offer prime views.

Eyeing a September reopening, Baguio officials will implement a policy requiring tourists to apply for a scheduled entry online, pre-book in a certified hotel and undergo PCR testing. To help locals stay afloat in the meanwhile, the government is planning a PHP 100 million (USD 2 million) stimulus package, focusing largely on micro-enterprises and small businesses.

In Central Visayas, island province Bohol beckons more than a million tourists each year. Many come for the famed Chocolate Hills, which according to legend were formed by feuding giants, or the incredible nature activities, like spotting the endangered tarsier at wildlife sanctuaries and cruising up the iconic Loboc River. Others head to the beaches on beautiful Panglao Island.

The province has already opened Panglao Island to a limited extent, allowing tourism-related activities to restart under strict hygiene and safety measures. Just as important to Bohol’s recovery is its newly operational Covid-19 testing lab, which will fast-track testing and tracing.

Palawan’s charms are no secret to Filipinos. This year, the island earned even greater recognition when it was ranked number one on Travel + Leisure’s list of the world’s best islands. From the secluded white sands off Coron and El Nido’s emerald lagoons to majestic karst cliffs and rich marine life, Palawan has it all.

The great news for travelers is that Coron, El Nido and San Vicente have kept Covid-19 at bay, credit to the hard work and sacrifices made by Palawan residents. That has helped El Nido get off the ground running. The vacation hotspot has begun to trial tourism again. Guests must undergo mandatary swab tests; once passed, they are shuttled point-to-point from the airport to their resorts, which are operating at reduced capacity to bolster physical distancing measures.

San Vicente and Coron have similar guidelines in the works to allow select numbers to return. They also might get to try new activities such as farm stays as the region seeks to build up its agritourism.

No nation’s reopening has been without its hurdles, but the Philippines’ plan is putting the right safety mechanisms in place to get back to business safely and smoothly.
Soon, the country will be ready to welcome travelers back to experience its awesome attractions with total peace of mind.

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This page was paid for by Department of Tourism Philippines. The editorial staff of CNBC had no role in the creation of this page.