NOTE: THIS STORY WAS FIRST PUBLISHED IN THE BOHOL CHRONICLE’S SUNDAY PRINT EDITION.
A big delegation coming from at least four government agencies as well as tour operators and media from Manila will be arriving tomorrow with a mission to help discuss on how to improve the economy through tourism and agriculture.
Three undersecretaries and three assistant secretaries of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), Department of Agriculture (DA) and Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) will be among the 54-man delegation from Manila.
CEO Ma. Anthonette Velasco of the Tourism Promotions Board Philippines TPBP will lead the group which will include 14 leaders in the leisure and property, five from Meetings Incentives Conventions and Events (MICE) and 10 from Manila based media organizations and bloggers.
This is the second time that PTB will be bringing a team to evaluate the reopening process for the tourists arrivals in the province.
COO Velasco said the group will charter a flight from Manila arriving tomorrow morning at the Bohol Panglao International Airport. She will bring a 10-man PTB team to include Arnold Gonzales, deputy chief for marketing and promotions, Carla Miranda, acting head of the MICE department.
NEDA’s Undersecretary Rosemarie Edillon, Undersecretary Jose dela Rosa and Assistant Sec. Carlos Abad Santos together with Assistant Sec. Rhea Penaflor and Asssistant Sec. Joseline Niwane of DSWD task group on social recovery and Undersecretary Cheryl Caballero of the Department of Agriculture (Food Resiliency) are among the officials arriving tomorrow.
The private sector is composed of those coming from Leisure and Property and MICE group.
The Manila team will stay until Thursday to explore and evaluate on where Bohol stands in its preparation for the tourists’ arrivals as well as on the recovery program on agriculture .
Fourteen tour operators will be in the group to link up with their Bohol counterparts.
Aside from the white sand beaches of Panglao, the group will visit top destinations, this time, to include Anda town.
Anda Mayor Dodong Amper has prepared a red carpet welcome for the group.
Strict health protocols will be imposed on the arriving group .
REOPENS DEC. 15
Bohol now moves forward to reopening leisure tourism which starts next week.
Starting December 15, Bohol will be welcoming frequent individual travelers (FIT) and leisure tourists.
Gov. Art Yap announced this last Friday as this plan was conveyed already to Tourism Sec. Berna Romulo-Puyat in a letter dated Nov. 26, 2020.
In the letter, the governor informed Romulo-Puyat that Bohol already started reopening Bohol tourism on Nov. 15, but only limited to MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions) type of events.
This time, Bohol is requesting Romulo-Puyat’s support for the planned reopening its doors to FIT and leisure tourism.
The governor told Romulo-Puyat that “after a series of consultations with stakeholders, the Provincial Tourism Council and the Bohol Association of Hotels, Resorts and Restaurants (BAHRR) are projecting to open again our doors for Frequent Individual Travelers (FIT) and leisure tourism on December 15, 2020”.
“As our way of supporting the MICE familiarization tours of the Tourism Promotions Board on December 7-10, may we respectfully invite you to do us the honors of joining the undersigned in announcing this new development,” the governor added.
Also in the letter, the governor told Romulo-Puyat that the Provincial Government of Bohol expresses utmost gratitude for the constant support that the Department of Tourism has extended to the province under the Tourism Response and Recovery Program in these trying times.
“Accordingly, local tourism has gradually bounced back after the Philippine Travel Exchange 2020 was conducted in our province. On Nov. 15, over a month after the Phitex and following the announcement you made then, we have reopened our island to MICE type of events and we are praying for a positive outcome,” the governor also told the tourism secretary.
Yap also said that Bohol continues “to promote the new normal for tourism under the Ultimate Bohol Experience (UBE) program for safe and seamless travels amidst the Covid-19 pandemic”.
On the other hand, the governor explained during the press conference last Friday that Bohol needs to reopen the economy although gradually and cautiously so that those whose livelihood has been direly affected by the stoppage of tourism activities because of the pandemic will be able to regain their lost income.
The governor shared that there are already around 211,000 who lost their jobs or have lost their livelihood because of the pandemic.
Many may be wary about the possible relationship between reopening tourism and the rise of Covid-19 cases in the province.
However, it has been noted that since Bohol reopened tourism for MICE events on Nov. 15, only 36 visitors came and they strictly stayed in the hotels where they were billeted for their respective events.
They strictly refrained from visiting other places.
Moreover, it can be seen in the Covid map that the areas where the cases recently spiked are not included in the possible itineraries of the visitors.
The governor, nevertheless, pointed out that the reopening of tourism does not mean that the people can now be confident and may tend to relax.
He said all the tourism activities are still required to be compliant with the strict protocols and the locals are still required to strictly observe the minimum health standards, especially the wearing of face masks, wearing of face shields over the face masks, keeping a physical distance of one meter from the other persons, and washing of hands as frequently as possible.
Establishments are also required to disinfect their business areas regularly and as needed.
Public transports are also required to disinfect the barriers between seats for passengers every after exposure.
For airlines bringing passengers to Bohol, they are required to make sure the passengers submit themselves for temperature checking using a thermal gun during check-in.
Other visible symptoms such as, but not limited to, fever, cough, colds body weakness, and difficulty in breathing shall also be checked.
Passengers showing such symptoms shall not be allowed to board the aircraft carrier bound for Bohol.
While en route to Bohol, passengers shall be required to fill up a Passenger Personal Health Declaration Form (PPHDF).
The accomplished PPHDF shall be collected in-flight by designated airline personnel and turned over to the Department of Health and the Bureau of Quarantine in Bohol.
No person shall be allowed to deplane until he or she was able to submit a PPHDF.
If during the flight, a passenger becomes symptomatic of the Covid-19, he or she shall be isolated during the flight at the tail end of the aircraft. Upon arrival in Bohol, he or she shall be accompanied to the designated holding areas by ground personnel and turned over to the BoQ for assessment.
The symptomatic person shall deplane last.
No passenger shall be allowed to leave the airport premises without being received by the corresponding extracting team from the receiving LGU or accredited accommodation facilities.
The aircraft operator shall submit a regular report to the Provincial Government of Bohol reflecting the number of persons entering Bohol with the dates of entry and exit to the province.