Airport stakeholders lobby for simplified, standard guidelines to encourage travel

·2 min read

THE ease of connectivity is a big factor in the success of reviving the country’s domestic tourism, a sector that has been heavily battered by the coronavirus pandemic.

But despite the reopening of some local destinations and gateways, the airline industry faces a bigger challenge—enticing people to travel again.

“There’s a travel demand. We know this because there’s a volume of inquiry from people about travel restrictions, what needs to be prepared and the like,” said Andrew Harrison, chief executive advisor of GMR-Megawide Cebu Airport Corp. “If we can make travel simpler and easier for them, that would be a big boost in reviving tourism.”

Harrison said there’s a need for the Philippines to improve its travel guidelines and make them simpler, especially since its rival neighbors, Thailand among them, have opened up cross-border tourism.

Currently, local government units don’t follow standardized guidelines in terms of travel movements. Each has its own, making travel in this new environment a bit challenging.

“We need to have a unified system because people find it (traveling)

complicated,” said Candice Iyog, Cebu Pacific (CEB) vice president for marketing and customer experience.

Iyog noted this should be looked into by the government if it wants to see progress in the reopening of domestic travel.

Recently, CEB piloted a Test Before Boarding (TBB) process to promote safe domestic air travel. Iyog said this is another layer of protection for the receiving destination in its fight against the Covid-19.

CEB piloted this new process in General Santos City for a two-week trial from Dec. 3 to 14. The antigen testing was conducted just hours before their scheduled flight and was free-of-charge. The tests were conducted by the Philippine Airport Diagnostic Laboratory, a Department of Health accredited facility.

New level of competition

While the coronavirus pandemic has helped industries innovate and prepare for global emergencies in the future, the new normal business landscape has opened up a new level of competition.

Harrison warned that the sector needs to see competition from an entirely different perspective now.

“Our rival neighbors will no longer rely on what they used to do. Competition will become more intense, especially for international travels,” he said, emphasizing that a greater collaboration must be forged for the tourism sector to successfully take off. (KOC)