CORTES, Bohol, Aug. 2 (PIA) -- The Philippine Department of Tourism (DOT) Sec. Bernadette Romulo-Puyat has met with Bohol local government officials and tourism stakeholders to explain the tourism bubble concept for island groups that have zero to low cases of the coronavirus disease, or those which have managed the local cases within their boundaries.
Puyat, who came to Bohol along with DOT's key officials including Tourism Promotions Board Chief Operations Officer Anthonette Velasco-Allones, Ace Padua and Rhiza Giagonia, said Pres. Rodrigo Duterte has shared his intent to gradually open up the economy even as some areas of the country are still battling with the corona virus.
The tourism bubble concept, or sometimes called the travel corridors or corona corridors, are agreements between regions without COVID-19 cases or with low cases, including regions which have shown good management of the disease, to allow cross visits between the two places.
In the Philippines, where COVID-19 continues to threaten several areas, Puyat said they are looking at considering opening travel on a per island basis, especially those with international airports.
Tourists can fly directly to the destinations using the international airports located in the regions where cases are low and well-managed, Puyat reiterated.
"Tourism bubble lets me think of Bohol. Maayos at magaling ang leadership ng Bohol," Puyat said.
Bohol was the first province to implement an island-wide lockdown, mandatory use of face masks, as well as the first to procure a Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction laboratory and testing machine.
This, too, amid the sweeping disruptions and losses in tourism and business industries that has pushed the government to take a second hard look at gradually re-opening businesses to revive the economy and let local economies recuperate.
Bohol Gov. Arthur Yap has also shared that Bohol may open its doors to outsiders as long as Boholanos are confident that it is safe for them, while officials can assure tourists they are safe here.
On this, the establishment of Bohol-based RT PCR testing capabilities like the operationalization of the molecular laboratory at the Gov. Celestino Gallares Hospital and the containerized RT PCR at the Bohol Medical Care Institute Complex in Dao, as well as the planned setting up of more RT PCR facilities at Bohol's ports of entry, may ease up tourists' confidence.
Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Sec. Eduardo Ano, for his part, assured that opening up of tourism industry has to be in concurrence with the local government units.
Commenting on the local targets to open up Bohol by the last quarter of 2020, the secretary in charge of supervising local governments shared his elation over the setting up of a target date to work with.
Ano cited a study by the Asian Institute of Management that said 77 percent of the respondents say they would still travel even without COVID vaccines available.
Of the 77 percent, 90 percent of them said travel can only happen as long as it is safe.
With Bohol's 25 active COVID-19 cases as of July 30, the secretary said the figure is very manageable.
But both Puyat and Ano emphasized that opening up Bohol would still depend on Boholanos.
"Dapat kasi negative lahat," Puyat emphasized, even as she meant those coming in as well as those here in Bohol should be COVID-free, adding that "we must not let our guards down, we shall continue to be very watchful."
In the end, the DILG secretary pointed out, it can only happen when Boholanos are ready. (rahc/PIA-7/Bohol)