THERE’S a welcome development in the country’s bid to slowly restart tourism. It’s something many of us have been waiting for a long time after being confined in our homes amid the pandemic.
‘Staycation’ in hotels in areas under general community quarantine was recently approved by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infections Diseases (IATF-EID).
Hotel Sales and Marketing Association President Christine Ibarreta said it’s good news for hotels and resorts as the safety and sanitation protocols are in place with their member hotels.
She said they are much ready to welcome guests back. This will likewise stimulate business all over the country and start rebuilding tourism, she added.
The IATF-EID recently allowed hotels to accommodate guests who would check in for leisure purposes even if the area is under GCQ.
Previously, only health workers, exempted employees, returning overseas Filipinos, and stranded tourists were allowed to book a hotel room unless the location is under the less strict modified GCQ.
The Department of Tourism (DOT) is expected to issue guidelines soon on staycations with specific regulations on the maximum allowable number of persons in a guestroom as well as the use of ancillary services, such as restaurants and recreational areas.
Metro Manila and the provinces of Bulacan, Batangas, and the city of Tacloban are under GCQ, while Lanao del Sur, Bacolod City, and Iligan City are under the more stringent modified enhanced community quarantine.
The rest of the country are under modified GCQ.
As this developed meanwhile, there are signs beach and resorts will be reopening soon.
In fact, there are talks about beach marshals overseeing health protocol compliance as among the conditions set by the DOT for the future reopening of beaches and resorts under the new normal.
Under the “Health and Safety Guidelines Governing the Operation of Island and Beach Destinations under the New Normal” signed by Tourism Secretary Bernadette-Romulo-Puyat, beach marshals may be designated by the local government unit to ensure that guests observe minimum health protocols at all times.
This will be in addition to the lifeguards on duty during prescribed swimming hours.
The DOT maintains its commitment to safely resume tourism in the Philippines under a ‘new normal, Romulo-Puyat said, adding that participation and cooperation are key to the guidelines’ effective implementation.
Under the guidelines, mass gatherings and group events including sports competition, youth camps, and other activities that gather crowds must comply with the health and safety protocols of the national and local governments.
“In a new normal scenario where no quarantine classification is imposed, swimming, surfing, running, walking, and other forms of outdoor non-contact sports and exercises will be allowed in our island and beach destinations, as long as minimum public health standards are strictly observed,” Romulo-Puyat said.
Restrooms must also meet the requirements and qualifications prescribed under the Asean Public Toilet standards, she added.
Guests are also required to undergo mandatory screening at the port of entry, while guests who intend to stay for at least one night must present their confirmed hotel or resort bookings during the screening process.
Guests who intend to make last-minute bookings can do so at the port of entry, where a directory of DOT-accredited establishments will be made available.
Those who have no confirmed bookings will be allowed entry at the destination, provided that they have joined a day tour package, or have an outbound ticket on the same day.
The DOT will also require all tourism establishments to adopt contactless or digital modes of taking reservations and payments.
Concessions, shops, peddlers, ambulant vendors, and food vending would remain strictly prohibited at beaches. Setting up chairs, canopies, grills and other ancillary temporary structures are not allowed.
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