July 09, 2020 at 11:20 pm
At least two senators doubted that Filipinos would be encouraged to go on trips abroad in the middle of a global pandemic after the Philippine government lifted the ban on non-essential travel.
While recognizing that Filipinos are innately “adventurous,” Senator Nancy Binay, chairperson of the Senate tourism committee, said she doesn’t think many people would brave the risk of travelling outside the country.
“We can see in the worldwide trend that there’s a problem now in the tourism industry globally, so I think there’s not many among our countrymen who will travel, “ she said.
Senator Panfilo Lacson also believes that Filipino tourists would not fly out given the health situation.
“I do not see this encouraging Filipinos to travel. Who would be encouraged to travel in the middle of a worldwide pandemic?” he said.
He agreed with the lifting of the suspension on non-essential travel of Filipinos as long as “conditions are complied with and protocols are strictly observed, particularly on quarantine procedures upon their return to the country.”
Meanwhile, Binay urged Filipinos to go local first before patronizing tourism in other countries.
“My appeal to fellow Filipinos is instead of traveling abroad, why not prioritize for now local tourism spots,” she sald.
“Whether it be tourist sights, tourist destinations, or local products made here in the Philippines, this should be something that we should push for,” she added.
However, she said local government units should not be pressured to open their spaces to tourists if they know that they are not yet prepared.
“At the moment, , what is important is to prevent the spread of the virus. If this means we should close tourism in other places, that should be done,” said Binay, adding that the health and safety of the people should be of utmost concern.
Binay also rejected the entry of foreign tourists from low-risk countries.
“That’s why the tourism industry faces a big problem. Looks like this is the last industry that can recover from the impact of the pandemic,” she added.
Binay said that the current lack of tourism activity can be used to re-train staff members in hotels or resorts and improve tourism facilities.
Last Tuesday, Malacañang announced that the Philippines has lifted its restrictions on non-essential outbound travel by Filipinos to countries with no “entry ban” for Filipinos.
They should also submit confirmed roundtrip tickets and adequate travel and health insurance to cover rebooking and accommodation expenses if stranded, and hospitalization in case of infection.
Binay said she sees nothing wrong with the government’s decision to lift the ban on non-essential outbound trips provided that travelers abide by health protocols when they get back.
“For me, I don’t see any problem as long as when they return, they would follow required protocols. There’s the mandatory 14-day quarantine and they will undergo PCR testing.”
“We have some adventurous Filipinos, so maybe they have the guts to still travel but as we can see in the worldwide trend, we seem to have a problem, the tourism industry globally. I think not that many Filipinos could travel,” she said.