Cebu Province starts talks to create travel bubbles

·3 min read

CEBU Province is now looking into creating travel bubbles or safe corridors with Korea, China and Japan, which are Cebu’s top tourist source markets in a bid to restart and create tourism activities in the province.

Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia, on Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021, initiated a meeting with the consul generals of Korea, China and Japan, top officials of the Department of Tourism 7 and Department of Health 7, representatives from local and foreign airlines, as well as executives from the Mactan-Cebu International Airport Authority and GMR-Cebu Megawide Cebu Airport Corp. to discuss opportunities and hurdles in the creation of travel bubbles.

“It is timely that we are discussing this, how we establish protocols in creating a bubble. We are doing this for Cebu,” said Garcia in a meeting streamed online via Sugbo News’ Facebook page.

“A travel bubble is something that will test our resolve... but Cebu is known for breaking new grounds and pioneering measures,” she said.

Travel bubbles refer to the arrangements between countries for travelers to enter each other’s borders without the need for strict quarantines or at least very minimal periods of quarantine.

Garcia commits to continue discussions to arrive at clearer measures moving forward.

In an interview, DOT 7 Director Shahlimar Tamano said Cebu’s tourism stakeholders welcome this development as this will rev up tourism activities in the island and spur reopening of tourism establishments that have been closed for one year and eight months now.

“We commend Governor Garcia in taking the lead and in initiating the discussions. This only means that the idea of a travel bubble for Cebu is seriously being considered. The tourism stakeholders are happy, and even our tourism markets are just waiting for Cebu to open up,” said Tamano.

Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, in 2019, Central Visayas booked 4,300,226 foreign arrivals. Korea, Japan and China, which are the region’s top tourist source markets, logged a total of 2,890,399 arrivals.

According to Tamano, the tourism stakeholders in Cebu have long been appealing for the country, particularly Cebu, to open up its border for foreign leisure travelers to come in.

The region’s tourism chief is confident that in the event Cebu opens its gates to foreign tourism these same markets will flock to Cebu’s beaches, mountains and other tourism spots.

“We have already built a good relationship with these three countries. Infrastructure is already in place for reconnection,” he said. “I believe that there’s still a strong interest for them to visit Cebu.”

“Cebu is a perfect pilot for travel bubbles because we are an island. Our boundaries are secured,” he said.

Moreover, among all regions in the country, Tamano said Central Visayas obtained the highest number of tourism establishments awarded the World Travel & Tourism Council SafeTravels Stamp as of Oct. 15. The SafeTravels Stamp is an international symbol created for travelers to recognize destinations and businesses around the world which have adopted the SafeTravels health and hygiene global standardized protocols.

“This only shows that our tourism establishments have remained proactive while under the pandemic, preparing their team and their properties for the anticipated rebound in tourism,” Tamano said. (KOC)

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