Shift to GCQ will reopen domestic tourism

TOURISM stakeholders can’t wait to revive the country’s domestic tourism sector following the Department of Transportation’s (DOTr) go signal to allow local airlines to return to the skies and resume operations between areas under the general community quarantine (GCQ).

“The Philippine Airlines is closely coordinating with local and national government authorities on the necessary implementing rules and regulations (IRR) and arrangements to finalize our routes and flight schedules,” the airline said. “As soon as these are finalized, we shall inform the public of the flights and routes we shall operate,” it added.

Rival Cebu Pacific said it would release a statement as soon as it gets the IRR details from the concerned government agencies.

Meanwhile, the Hotel, Resort, and Restaurant Association of Cebu (HRRAC) said the eased quarantine measures will mark the repair of the battered tourism industry.

“We welcome this positive news. This will be a good start to revive domestic tourism,” HRRAC president Carlo Suarez said.

“We are excited to cater to the domestic market because this is the first (market) to bounce back, followed by the international market, hopefully later this year,” he said.

Starting June 1, Metro Manila and six other areas will be placed under GCQ while the rest of the country, including Cebu City, will shift to modified general community quarantine.

On May 28, Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella, however, appealed to the regional Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of the Emerging Infectious Diseases to reconsider placing Cebu City under GCQ.

Aside from Metro Manila, other areas that will be under GCQ for the period June 1 to 15 are Davao City, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Calabarzon and the provinces of Albay and Pangasinan.

Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said the country’s international gateways in Clark (Pampanga), Cebu and Davao will have testing laboratories for arriving passengers. The agency also plans to expand these gateways to decongest the Ninoy Aquino International Airport as the National Capital Region transitions to GCQ.

The DOTr chief also eyes to open up more international gateways in the coming weeks and this will include airports in Zamboanga, Iloilo, Bacolod and Bohol.

Global tourism guidelines

Meanwhile, the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has released a set of guidelines to help the tourism sector emerge stronger and more sustainably from Covid-19.

The guidelines were produced in consultation with the Global Tourism Crisis Committee and aim to support governments and private sector to recover from an unparalleled crisis.

The guidelines highlight the importance of restoring the confidence of the travelers through safety and security protocols designed to reduce risks in each step of the tourism value chain. These protocols include the implementation of check proced-ures where appropriate, including temperature scans, testing, physical distancing, enhanced frequency of cleaning and the provision of hygiene kits for safe air travel, hospitality services or safe events.

Depending on when travel restrictions are lifted, the UNWTO warns that international tourist arrivals could fall by between 60 percent and 80 percent. This puts 100 to 120 million jobs at risk and could lead to US$ 910 billion to US$ 1.2 trillion lost in exports. (JOB with PR)