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We may not be able to travel abroad within 2020, DOT says



Mapping out travel plans abroad for “therapeutic” purposes as soon as the lockdown has been lifted? You may have to scrap that for now as Department of Tourism forecasts foreign travel to be unlikely this year.

On a virtual hearing hosted by House committee on tourism, DOT Sec. Berna Romulo-Puyat tackles international travel and how it may not be possible any time soon. “Travel will not revert to normal right away. Even if the ECQ has been lifted, some LGUs will not yet be open to visitors from other places and international travel might not yet happen within the year pending the travel restrictions of other nations,” she says. “At this point in time, traveling is but a dream.”

The first few months of 2020 foreign arrival revenue, coinciding with the initial phase of the Covid-19 outbreak, has seen a 40.2 percent decrease from the same period last year.

Aside from widespread plunge from would-be travelers due to ongoing fear and uncertainty, Sec. Berna also discusses how micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) are unable to withstand critical hit from closures and restrictions, but “all of these are being studied and evaluated by the DOT and our private stakeholder partners with regular coordination with the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases,” she says.

The domestic travel and local tourism industry will, however, undergo a “new normal” environment until the vaccine for Covid-19 is found. Precautionary measures should be observed in hotels, transport services, MICE venues, restaurants, and establishments governed by the DOT with social distancing in mind.

These policies include regular sanitation and disinfection, inspections regarding health and safety standards according to the Department of Health, limiting capacity of operating tourist spots, and facilitation of online systems for tourism-related digital transactions such as accreditations, training, modules, retail, and contactless check-in.

The IATF has also approved DOT’s request to charter and fund sweeper flights for qualified stranded local tourists from other regions to Metro Manila. “This is a positive development that will complement our on-ongoing efforts in the Department to assist qualified stranded local tourists, which include the provision of one-time financial assistance,” says Sec. Berna.

Stranded local tourists can reach out to their nearest DOT regional office for assistance and announcements on sweeper flights departure schedules.






Source: Manila Bulletin (

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