Cities, towns need to work harder to join government's 'tourism bubble'

LOCAL government units (LGU) that rely heavily on tourism must work doubly hard to manage their Covid-19 cases so they could promote their tourism sites as safe destinations and become part of the government’s “travel bubble” program.

Creating a travel bubble involves reconnecting destinations that have shown a good level of success in containing the novel coronavirus pandemic domestically. This is a scheme meant to jumpstart the recovery in tourism by linking two safe places for tourists to enjoy and discover.

Places that are Covid-free or have low Covid-19 cases will be prioritized in the reopening.

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said the Department of Tourism (DOT) is mulling to set up “travel bubbles” or travel corridors in reopening tourism destinations with no or low Covid-19 cases to certain countries, citing the possibilities for Boracay, Bohol and Palawan.

According to a report, the governments of Australia and New Zealand have revealed their plans to set up a travel bubble, although no time frame was given.

Jojo Clemente, president of the Tourism Congress of the Philippines, said such concept is a welcome initiative that will help revive the country’s ailing tourism industry. He said they see this as a precursor in the gradual reopening of tourism once general travel will be allowed.

“That will start to spur domestic tourism. We may not be able to have mass tourism using the travel bubbles, but at least this can be used as a pilot project on how tourism will proceed once general travel is allowed,” said Clemente in a DOT-sponsored webinar on Tuesday, June 16.

He added that such program can be done on a limited scale between places with relatively low or no Covid-19 cases.

According to Clemente, the DOT is now in talks with possible partner destinations in the international markets.

“There are now some destinations in the pipeline,” he said.

Moreover, Clemente said establishing travel corridors will now compel LGUs to work harder in addressing the Covid-19 pandemic in their locality, particularly in implementing safety protocols. “The better you are, the LGU will be rewarded. You will be one of the places that will be considered in this travel bubble program,” he said.

Tourism stakeholders in Cebu earlier asked the DOT to boost its campaign of the Philippines being a safe destination. (KOC)