Travel Updates Philippines: Slowly But Surely Amid COVID-19

Slowly But Surely: Here’s What Tourism Reopening Looks Like in The Philippines

The government’s tourism arm safeguards tourists’ health and security with these COVID-19 travel updates and protocols.

While the world still grapples with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, nations gear up to revive hard-hit economies and industries — travel and tourism included. In the way of COVID-19 travel updates, the Philippines makes a bold statement; here, tourism is opening slowly but surely with tourists’ health and safety a topmost priority.

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The question is, how? Let this article walk you through COVID-19 travel updates and protocols that prominently figure in the Philippines’ slow but sure tourism reopening.

A sneak peek of the Philippines’ premier destinations

COVID-19 travel updates

The lush landscapes of Alamada in Cotabato province. | Image credit: Crizaldy Diverson

Leisure travel to the Philippines for foreign nationals may still be on hold, but the country’s premier tropical escapes have already been preparing for reopening!

Also read: These Foreigners Travelled the Philippines & Here’s Why They Don’t Want to Leave

Bucket list-worthy getaways such as Palawan, Boracay, and Baguio continue to boost tourists’ safety by enforcing COVID-19 protocols with utmost consideration and care. This way, you’re assured that your health and well-being are safeguarded; whether you’re in the heart of a bustling metropolis like Manila or whiling your time away at the tropical escape of your dreams.

So what should eager explorers expect once borders reopen? Here’s how your favourite Philippine destinations prepare for your much-awaited return!

COVID-19 travel updates: Baguio

COVID-19 travel updates

Baguio’s strawberries are among the country’s sweetest and you can enjoy them in many forms: candied jam, ice cream, and even as a topping for taho or warm soybean curd. | Image credit: Jett Kalvin

Dubbed the “City of Pines” and the Philippines’ summer capital, Baguio is well-loved for lush strawberry farms, cool weather, and laidback mountainside living!

The hilly capital made headlines in early July for announcing the strict implementation of COVID-19 travel protocols should they choose to reopen in September. Baguio City is intent on being proactive, as it is among the top destinations even for locals. Boracay and Siargao join Baguio in the country’s top three domestic destinations, according to a survey conducted by the Philippines’ Department of Tourism (DOT).

In preparation for potential reopening once travel restrictions ease, Baguio has introduced a travel regulation system called Visitor Information and Travel Assistance (Visita). Don’t fret, though — it’s really not as complicated as it sounds! Visita allows the local government to warmly welcome each traveller enticed by Baguio’s chill appeal. The system looks out for tourists’ every need, depending on their itineraries and duration of stay. You could say that Visita is an extra layer of security; as through it, guests are assured they remain COVID-free all through their Baguio escapade.

Visita also benefits local residents and the environment as it helps limit tourist traffic on a daily basis. This means that the system also protects the popular mountainside go-to from overcrowding. That’s always a plus!

COVID-19 travel updates: Boracay

COVID-19 travel updates

Imagine digging your toes into Boracay’s fine, white sand. | Image credit: Apple Bautista

The white-sand, sun-kissed shores of Boracay already had a headstart as it opened its doors to local tourists residing in the same region last June! Thankfully, the island is no stranger to the implementation of strict protocols as it underwent a months-long environmental rehabilitation in 2018.

That said, the same COVID-19 travel protocols enforced by the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) apply. Even when stricter community quarantine has been lifted, COVID-19 guidelines such as mask- and face shield-wearing, frequent disinfection, and social distancing are sternly carried out. We don’t mind, though — these social distancing measures only make for a more serene beachside retreat!

Boracay island also invested in medical equipment essential to COVID-19 management; these include RT-PCR Machines and RNA extractors. DOT announced the same medical equipment upgrades for Davao, a major travel hotspot and tourism gateway in the Mindanao island group.

COVID-19 travel updates: Palawan, Siargao, & Bohol

Palawan’s islands are also wildlife havens. | Image credit: David Reynolds

Another tropical escape famed for plush accommodations, wildlife diversity, clear waters, and limestone cliffs, Palawan draws tourists with its highly-acclaimed islets in Coron and El Nido.

DOT partnered with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to launch the flagship program, Transforming Communities towards Resilient, Inclusive, and Sustainable Destinations (TouRIST). Through TouRIST, DOT aims to restore tourism sites to their former beauty, as well as provide “technical assistance for emergency health services” in El Nido and Coron.

DOT and ADB’s TouRIST program also boosts hygiene preparedness for Siargao — the Philippines’ surfing capital — and Bohol, home of Philippine tarsiers and the iconic Chocolate Hills. Ain’t that neat (pun intended!)?

Also read: Quarantine in the Philippines: Is It More Fun? These Foreigners Tell All

COVID-19 travel & tourism protocols in the Philippines

You should know that these COVID-19 travel updates apply to the rest of the archipelago too, underrated gems included! Tourism protocols in the Philippines mostly boil down to a stringent accreditation process. Players in the country’s hospitality and tourism industries abide by international standards of COVID-19 safety and hygiene preparedness to protect travellers, and ensure their safety all throughout their stay. 

MORE ON WORRY-FREE TRAVELS IN THE PHILIPPINES

Did you know that establishments may only operate in the “New Normal” when they receive accreditation from the DOT? Now, travellers can rest easy knowing that the following areas of tourism and hospitality are well taken care of in the Philippines.

Accommodations

COVID-19 travel updates

Your home away from home in Palawan awaits. | Image credit: Club Paradise Palawan

Locals’ welcoming nature and hospitality have always been the Philippines’ strong suits. Filipinos take pride in this, and the same warmth is extended even in carrying out strict COVID-19 travel protocols in hotels and various accommodations. Expect the following when billeted in any accommodations establishment during the “New Normal”:

  • Contactless payments
  • Rigid health declaration system, which involves screening
  • Physical distancing and markers that remind guests of this
  • Use of masks, face shields, and other personal protective equipment in public areas for both guests and staff
  • Routine health checks for staff to ensure guests’ safety
  • Provision of in-room sanitization kits for guests
  • Medical-grade equipment for sanitization and temperature screening at all entrances
  • The existence of a COVID-19 holding facility for symptomatic guests
  • Limited occupancy per room (single to double occupancy only)
  • Thorough, routine disinfection of facilities and rooms
  • Limited room service and F&B hours
  • Possible regulated use of some leisure facilities (e.g. pool, gym, spa, etc.)
  • The Mabuhay greeting or Bating Filipino, a customary gesture of goodwill that assures a warm yet contactless welcome.

Tip: You can try the Mabuhay gesture greeting, too! Just place your palm at the centre of your chest and slightly nod in the direction of the person you’re addressing. It helps to smile. Your mask may cover most of your face, but cheery eyes will always brighten someone’s day!

F&B

A scrumptious silog meal | Image credit: ivan Torres

Gastronomical experiences are part and parcel of any epic adventure, and the Philippines has that covered, too! When dining in any establishment in Manila and beyond, expect the following:

  • Health declaration system for effective contact tracing
  • Routine sanitization and temperature checks at all entrances
  • Physical distancing even for those dining in groups, and markers to remind both staff and customers of the requirement
  • Use of masks, face shields, and other personal protective equipment for staff and customers
  • Possible refusal of entry if exhibiting severe flu-like symptoms
  • Cashless and contactless payment options
  • Reduced seating capacity for each restaurant.

There you have it: proof that the Philippines is indeed slowly but surely preparing for your arrival. Note that for now, its 7,000+ islands are only open to local residents. The country’s dream destinations can’t wait to welcome visitors back with arms wide open! Till then, think of sun-soaked paradises and unique cultural experiences — and #WakeUpInPH

COVID-19 travel updates

The wonders of Palawan, a true tropical paradise. | Image credit: Jules bss

Just don’t forget to do your part as a responsible traveller when adventure comes knocking once more; stay at home to travel tomorrow, keep your distance, and practice impeccable personal hygiene!

 

For more information, please visit philippines.travel and DOT’s official Facebook page.


Brought to you by Department of Tourism – Philippines.

About Author

Alyosha Robillos
Alyosha Robillos

In Russia, Alyosha is a boy's name popularised by literary greats Dostoevsky and Tolstoy—but this particular Alyosha is neither Russian nor a boy. She is a writer from the Philippines who loves exploring the world as much as she likes staying at home. Her life's mission is to pet every friendly critter there is. When she isn't busy doing that, she sniffs out stories and scribbles away on the backs of old receipts. She is an advocate of many things: culture and heritage, the environment, skincare and snacking, to name a few. She will work for lifetime supplies of french fries and coffee. Or yogurt. Or cheese, preferably Brie.

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