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Calls continue for uniform travel rules across Philippine destinations

calls-continue-for-uniform-travel-rules-across-philippine-destinations

Philippine tourism players persist in battling for a uniform set of travel requirements to be implemented nationwide so as to facilitate ease of travel, noting that varying regulations across destinations stymies post-lockdown domestic tourism recovery efforts.

For instance, some local government units (LGUs) require travellers to undergo a rapid antigen or PCR test for Covid-19, with validity periods of the result varying across destinations. As well, some destinations do not require travellers to serve a quarantine period, while others do, with the quarantine period varying from three to 21 days.

Destinations across the Philippines have reopened to domestic travellers since late 2020; locals visiting the Temple of Leah in Cebu City in September 2020 pictured

Such a non-standardised approach to Covid-safe travel regulations across the country has proven a stumbling block for travel agents when it comes to selling multi-destination tour packages.

Rajah Travel Corporation president and chair, Aileen Clemente, said: “Where multiple entities do not follow a singular standard or treatment of the protocols… it becomes quite confusing to sell any tours, given that there are different rules to each part of one’s journey.”

Agreeing, Irine Maliwanag, general manager, im-active Tours, Events, MICE Management and Services, said the current varying domestic travel requirements confuse both the travel agencies and the travellers, making it tough to sell multi-destination packages, despite the reopening of domestic destinations towards the end of last year.

Clemente advised: “The authorities must really learn to work together in a coordinated fashion in order to also ensure full compliance. With different protocols (across different localities), you’re bound to find more violations, given the fact that it is very difficult to keep track of all the different rules”.

In support of LGUs adopting uniform travel requirements, tourism secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat said: “Since tourists would wish to visit several destinations, it is confusing and cumbersome if LGUs have different apps, protocols and requirements to comply with. Thus, uniformity (would) make travel plans a lot easier and ultimately, more fun.”

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