A P5,000 FINE and one year’s worth of jail time await tourists who refuse to follow health and safety protocols while visiting tourism sites in Cebu Province.
This after the Cebu Provincial Board approved an ordinance on Monday, Sept. 28, 2020 setting protocols and guidelines for the Province’s tourism activities amid the continued Covid-19 pandemic.
The ordinance, which is aligned with Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia’s Executive Order 20-A, was approved on third and final reading during the PB’s out-of-town session in Alegria town.
Its main sponsor, PB Member Andrei “Red” Duterte (Cebu, 5th), chair of the PB’s committee on tourism, said the ordinance is necessary to ensure that tourists visiting the Province’s tourist sites are fully protected from the Covid-19.
“We really need this ordinance because we have tourism stakeholders that are asking why some of them are implementing the Province’s protocols while others don’t,” Duterte said.
Aside from tourists, local officials, operators and employees of tourism establishments could face sanctions if they refuse to comply with the ordinance.
One protocol that the Province will require from tourists is for them to register in the Province’s online portal and pay the necessary fees through a remittance center.
The online portal aims to ensure that tourism sites in the Province are able to limit visitations as a means to prevent Covid-19 infections.
The online portal can also help educate tourists on the do’s and don’ts when touring Cebu and what items they need to bring during the tour.
Aside from face masks, tourists are required to wear face shields and carry air purifiers as a health and safety precaution.
The ordinance also requires tour site organizers and owners of tourism-related industries to acquire disinfecting equipment and disinfect areas for their clients.
Tourism-related industries and establishments must also strictly observe the Province-wide curfew from 12 a.m. to 5 a.m.
In an earlier interview, Garcia said the measures are not meant to stifle the itinerary of tourists visiting the Province.
Rather, the measures are a way to help tourism-related industries such as hotels, resorts and restaurants and their respective employees to rise up even during the Covid-19 crisis.
Following the reopening of the Province’s tourism activities, various activities such as canyoneering, island hopping, snorkeling, diving, whaleshark watching, sightseeing, zipline adventures, All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) riding, parasailing, hiking, trekking, mountaineering, spelunking and visiting cultural heritage sites and museums have resumed.
Meanwhile, the Lapu-Lapu City government plans to initiate a “tourism fair” at the Hoops Dome in Barangay Gun-ob on Oct. 17 as part of the City’s “Balik Turismo” program.
Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Junard “Ahong” Chan told reporters that hotels and resorts are expected to participate in the program by offering discounts on their services and products such as food and accommodations.
Chan said the “tourism fair” aims to promote the city’s tourism-related industries to help them recover from effects of the Covid-19 crisis.
The mayor said as of this week, only 70 percent of Lapu-Lapu City’s hotels and resorts were in operation.
“This is really low. That’s why we really have to look for a booth just to sell their hotel,” Chan added.
Chan hopes the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) will grant his request to allow senior citizens and minors to check in with their families in the city’s hotels and resorts.
Chan earlier sought the DILG’s clarification concerning allowing the elderly and even minors to visit tourism sites in the city now that Lapu-Lapu City is now under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ).
He also urged tourists visiting the city to avoid “home stays” as this would hinder contact tracing.
Earlier, Chan also issued orders preventing non-residents of Lapu-Lapu City from swimming in the city’s public beaches following difficulties encountered in monitoring the tourists.
“We just really want to monitor our tourists. Hotels and resorts already know the protocol that those from outside Lapu-Lapu should be registered,” Chan said. (ANV / JKV, GCM / JKV)