Tourism sector maintains health protocols

The domestic tourism industry upholds safety measures as a priority for the 6th World Travel Expo Manila to guarantee the health and wellbeing of participants, with strict implementation of the minimum health protocols.

Until now, the Department of Tourism has followed the recommendations by the health authorities to maintain the use of face masks, social distancing and vaccination for all tourists to favor the recovery of the tourism industry.

“In our upcoming event in October, we will make sure that we follow the rules, as we don’t want an escalation of the current alert level because we will be the ones to be affected if measures are strict again. We are relying on the movements of our customers. If they will be restricted again, then that’s a catastrophe for the MICE industry,” Mildred Caballero, managing director of Ad Asia Conventions and Exhibitions International Corp., said in an interview.

She said since they partnered with Okada Manila for their event, the hotel remains vigilant regarding enforcing the minimum health protocols.

“Every stakeholder should follow orders from the Department of Transportation since we have no choice but to keep the economy going. If the Alert level status goes up, then the MICE industry will be the one to be hit. We are still grappling and struggling with the pandemic. Also, we are still worried since cases are piling up right now. We don’t know what will happen in the next few weeks or months as some stakeholders in the travel industries still have apprehensions about the situation,” she said.

Measures in place

Meanwhile, Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco maintained that health and safety protocols continue to be actively in place in tourism destinations in the Philippines to ensure the safety of travelers and visitors.

Frasco is reacting to the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention (US-CDC) decision to put the Philippines under Level 3 for the Covid-19 category after scrutinizing 235 places.

In a travel health notice posted Tuesday, US-CDC grouped the Philippines with Nepal and Russia as Level 3, including countries with more than 100 COVID-19 new cases over the past 28 days per 100,000 population.

“The global pandemic continues to expose the tourism industry to challenges, but our travelers can rest assured that the Philippine government continues to ensure that minimum public health and safety standards are in place, coupled with the precautionary measures observed by our partners from the private and public sectors. Therefore, our guests can safely enjoy any of our 7,641 islands even in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to Frasco.

As of Monday, 3,484 new COVID-19 cases were detected in the Philippines, bringing the total active cases to 38,983 and the total nationwide tally since the start of the pandemic to 3,835,422.

The Department of Health said an additional 4,473 individuals recovered from the virus, thus the decrease in active infections after three straight days of being at more than 40,000.

“We are confident of the measures and guidelines that we have instituted to strike a balance between safety and travel in the new normal,” added Frasco.

Earlier, the Department of Health emphasized the different metrics employed by the Philippines and the US in the COVID-19 classification, as DoH Officer-in-Charge Maria Rosario Vergeire stressed that, to date, the Philippines is giving more weight to the healthcare utilization rate rather than the number of new cases.

Moreover, the country also boasts a 92.3 percent vaccination rate, equivalent to more than 72 million Filipinos fully vaccinated as of 14 August 2022, according to the bulletin released by the Health department. Experts noted that vaccination is an essential tool in preventing COVID-19 transmission.

Based on the same bulletin, 28 percent or 719 out of 2,571 ICU beds were used, while 30.9 percent or about 6,781 out of 21,968 non-ICU beds across the country are currently utilized

There is also a stark difference between the COVID-19 positivity rate of The Philippines, which is now averaging 4,001 daily, compared to that of the US, which recorded 13,609 new cases in the last 24 hours, according to the World Health Global Organization website.

“What we learned from the advent of COVID-19 is that we cannot continue to allow the fear of it to shape our lives and travel plans negatively. So much has been lost to this pandemic. We need to revise our perspective and learn how to live with this virus in a manner that is reasonable, rational and responsible for health protocols so that not only lives but also livelihoods of people dependent on tourism may be saved in the process,” explained Frasco.





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