Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat has announced the arrival of 10,000 COVID-19 vaccines in Bohol “as early as this week” for the inoculation of tourism workers in a bid to revive the province’s slumping tourism industry.
Some 5,000 tourism employees stand to get the two-dose inoculation using the Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine developed by Russia’s Gamaleya Institute.
According to Puyat, the vaccine rollout in Bohol which was proposed by the DOT was approved by the national government particularly its vaccination implementers.
“I am delighted to bring the good news that vaccine czars Sec. Carlito Galvez and Sec. Vince Dizon have approved our request for additional vaccines for Bohol,” Puyat said in a statement issued Monday.
“With this, the industry’s frontliners can start preparing for a bigger reopening of tourism in the coming days,” she added.
The DOT, since February, has been pushing for the inclusion of tourism industry workers in the priority list of the government’s nationwide vaccination drive.
Puyat has repeatedly highlighted that vaccination is “the only way to restart tourism.”
Both industry stakeholders in Bohol and the provincial government have also made the same appeal for vaccination of tourism workers through the DOT.
Bohol, a prime tourism destination, has been reeling from the massive downturn in the sector.
The DOT, citing data from the provincial government, said more than 200,000 workers were affected by the imposition of community quarantine—either laid off by their employers, or put on itinerant work schedules.
Puyat is optimistic that a travel bubble between the province and destinations in Asia will soon be feasible through the inoculation of tourism workers.
The official, during a virtual meeting with local tourism stakeholders and Governor Art Yap also on Monday, said the vaccination drive for tourism industry workers would pave the way for Bohol to start its preparations for the opening of its “Green Lane.”
“We hope that, in a way, this will help you restart, and you can already make your Green Lane,” she said.
The Green Lane is a DOT initiative which seeks to facilitate the entry of foreign visitors who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 without, or lessened, quarantine.
However, the program is still being finalized as the DOT seeks to come up with measures to authenticate the vaccination documents of tourists arriving from different countries.