DOT drafts plan for new normal in Covid-19 aftermath

By Filane Mikee Cervantes

April 28, 2020, 4:07 pm

<p>Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo–Puyat</p>

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo–Puyat

MANILA – Department of Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo–Puyat on Tuesday outlined the steps toward a new normal for the Philippine tourism industry in the aftermath of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) crisis.

During a virtual hearing of the House Committee on Tourism, Puyat said the department would be implementing policies and programs to “adapt to the new normal” for the industry as a result of the pandemic.

Puyat said regular sanitation or disinfection of accommodation, tourism transport services, and tourism-related establishments, such as meeting and exhibit venues, restaurants, and spas. There will also be regular inspections of tourism establishments.

Sanitation and disinfecting devices, including personal protective equipment, shall be provided for tourism workers.

The DOT will pursue the development of online systems that can facilitate tourism-related transactions digitally such as applications for accreditation, training and modules, and retail.

She noted that there would be capacity limits for tourism transportations, restaurants, tourist spots, such as parks and museums, and meeting conventions.

She also highlighted that travel most likely will “not revert to normal” any time soon.

“International travel might not happen this year, pending the travel restrictions of other nations. At this point in time, traveling is but a dream,” she added.

Citing the negative impact of the Covid-19 crisis, Puyat said revenue from foreign arrivals for January to March 2020 has reached PHP79.8 billion, or a decrease of 40.62 percent compared to PHP134.3 billion in January to March last year.

Aside from the new normal plan, she said the DOT has carried out the Tourism Response and Recovery Program during the initial stages of the Covid-19 outbreak to help tourism-related businesses and their workforce get back on their feet.

The DOT's immediate response actions include the implementation of a moratorium on the collection of accreditation fees from new and renewing applicants from tourism enterprises (TEs) and tourism-related enterprises (TREs) for the year 2020.

The DOT and the Tourism Promotions Board have also waived the participation fees in international fairs and exhibitions between now and the end of 2021.

Among the immediate response of DOT also was mounting its own sweeper flights and assisting embassies that helped many of the travel trade's clients leave the country. To date, the DOT was able to extend assistance to 23,059 foreign tourists.

She said the DOT was tapped by the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases to work with its accommodation establishments in providing rooms for repatriated overseas Filipino workers, health front-liners, business process outsourcing (BPO) professionals, and bank employees, among others. (PNA)