CEBU Pacific is optimistic that the standardization of travel protocols among local government units (LGUs) will boost local tourism as more areas open their borders with eased movement restrictions.
"We did see little more activity and interest. More people are looking to book on the website. There is pent-up demand, there is a lot of excitement there," Candice A. Iyog, Cebu Pacific's vice president for marketing and customer experience, said during a virtual roundtable with the media on March 2, 2021.
On February 26, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the management of Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF) eased travel protocols and issued uniform travel protocols through Resolution 101.
Under the new guidelines, the IATF has removed documentary requirements for travelers -- travel authority from the Joint Task Force Covid Shield and health certificates. A Covid-19 test will also no longer be required except when required by the local government unit (LGU) of their destination. Covid-19 tests will be limited to the reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR).
Iyog said the easing of travel protocols is timely considering that based on the January 2021 survey the airline conducted, 76 percent of the respondents said they are planning to travel again this year.
"The main consideration for them right now...before they decide to travel is really the travel requirements. It is the top consideration for people before they book their flight," she said.
Iyog said when they conducted a survey in July 2020, the top concerns of travelers were on safety and security, flexibility, and travel restrictions. Following the January 2021 survey, the top concerns of travelers have now shifted to travel requirements, travel restrictions, and safety and security.
Following the issuance of the new travel guidelines, Iyog said Cebu Pacific has started to slowly update the travel requirement list on its website.
"We still need to wait for the various LGUs to issue their executive orders on how they will implement the IATF resolution and we have seen some LGUs already sharing their simplified requirements. We expect this to maybe settle by the end of the week. It is all very positive developments," Iyog said.
She also said the easing of travel requirements will support domestic tourism.
"We expect that this is forthcoming and quite timely because as we enter our anniversary month, we have a full month of activities for the traveling public. We believe that this is already important because we want to support domestic tourism. Domestic tourism contributes close to 13 percent of the GDP (gross domestic product) and in 2019 [it] contributed P2.5 trillion to the economy," Iyog said.
Just in time travel restrictions are being eased, Cebu Pacific permanently removes its change fee, also known as the rebooking fee.
"We know and understand that it will take time before confidence in air travel is fully restored, so what we want is to make it easier for people to fly again. We know that flexibility is still important inorder to give our passengers peace of mind when they make that booking. In order to help that, we will no longer charge change fees," Iyog said.
She said passengers can now rebook their flights as many times as they need. However, travelers may still need to pay for the price difference.
"If you are rebooking to a flight that is already full and therefore the fare might be higher na but if you are booking to a flight that is not yet full, then it is possible that you do not need to pay for a [minimal] fare difference," Iyog said.
She also said their new rebooking policy covers flights booked last year. Passengers can also rebook to as far as 12 months. The rebooking can be managed by travelers on their website.