Tourism players back ways to bring back tourists

MOUNTAIN DESTINATION. Buwakan ni Alejandra located in Barangay Gaas, Balamban has been one of the go-to destinations of local tourists.Tourism players in Cebu says they are ready anytime the government fully opens its borders either through a travel bubble or accepting inoculated foreign tourists. (SunStar photo. Katlene O. Cacho)

TOURISM players in Cebu are prepared for the reopening of the province’s tourism industry whether it is through tourism bubbles or the entry of inoculated foreigners.

The Hotel, Resort and Restaurant Association of Cebu (HRRAC) president Alfred Reyes said he welcomed the move of Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia to link Cebu through tourism bubbles as well as the plan of Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Junard Chan of opening up Cebu to international tourists.

“I salute whatever initiative the governor has done for the province of Cebu, and Cebu itself by really opening the economy. Among all the governors we have here in the country, it’s only Governor Gwen who’s really fighting for the tourism industry,” he said.

A travel bubble is an agreement between two or more countries to open up their borders for travel without strict quarantine. Generally, they are done between governments that are close and trust each other, and who are confident both sides are managing the virus well.

Both initiatives, according to Reyes, are a big help to the dying hospitality industry right now.

With the low Covid-19 cases in Cebu, Reyes said initiatives in spurring tourism should be closely considered.

“We can really say, ‘Come to Cebu because it is really safe,’” he said.

Reyes said the continued single-digit Covi-19 cases showed the effective government and private sector approach in containing the pandemic.

“The Cebuanos will take this opportunity to really follow the health protocols so that we can move and start reopening our economy. This is something we can be proud of as Cebuanos,” he said.

The HRRAC official also lauded the initiative of reopening the border for tourists that have been inoculated.

“This is also a baby step in reopening the economy. In fact, this is being done in some parts of Europe,” he said.

Chan in April said it will try to lure foreign tourists to the city, but he still has to request and convince an intergovernmental body to allow his plan amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

He said he will send a letter to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, asking it to allow the entry of inoculated foreign nationals into the city as tourists.

Reyes said HRRAC is working in close coordination with airline carriers as they are already contemplating bringing in tourists, provided the local government units will start allowing foreign tourists to come and visit Cebu.

“The airlines are just waiting for the opening of the borders,” he said. “Cebu is far from those with high cases right now. As long as we, Cebuanos, help maintain these cases that are really low, then we will be okay. There are already direct flights coming from Asian countries,” he said.

Foreign tourists are still banned from entering the Philippines despite the slight relaxation of travel restrictions which took effect on Saturday, May 1. Only foreigners holding immigrant and non-immigrant visas may enter the country. (JOB)


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