Batanes Tests Tourism Reopening, DOT Promotes Regenerative Tourism

Starting its trial period for tourism reopening, Batanes lifted its travel ban to welcome tourists on May 15, Manila Bulletin reported. The trial period will run until June 30, and will determine if the provincial government will allow more tourism arrivals in the next months.

Batanes, known as the “Home of the Winds,” is famous for a number of tourist destinations, including the Basco and Sabtang Lighthouse, Morong Beach, and Mount Iraya.

Batanes Tourism Reopening Guidelines

Along with the order to reopen, the provincial government’s Ordinance No. 363 and Executive Order No. 23 outlined the guidelines for tourists visiting Batanes. For one, only vaccinated travelers will be allowed to enter. 

Upon arrival, tourists will undergo health screening. Those who show COVID-19 symptoms will be subjected to immediate testing. If it comes out positive, the visitor will be sent to an isolation facility. Their stay will be free of charge except for food and other supply expenses.

Do-it-yourself tourism is not allowed. Instead, visitors must book their tours with tour operators, accommodations, and tour guides accredited by the Department of Tourism (DOT).

Part of the rules during the trial period is the limit on the number of tourists welcomed to the province. Batanes will only accept 50 persons per week.

The archipelagic province in the north was among the first areas outside Metro Manila to impose travel ban on tourists in 2020, when coronavirus cases in the Philippines were first reported. Only people who live and work in the province were able to enter the province after presenting proof of residency and employment.

Tourism’s Contribution to Economy

The vibrant tourism activities in the country were instrumental in driving the economy in 2021, according to the latest World Travel and Tourism Council economic impact report, as mentioned by Philstar. The tourism and travel sector contributed to Philippines’ 4th fastest growing economy rank last year.

In 2019, the industry’s contribution to the gross domestic product of the total economy was 22.5% or US$92.6 billion. The figures dropped by 80.7% or US$ 17.8 billion in 2020, the year of the pandemic, representing only a 4.85% share. But in 2021, its contribution grew to US$ 41 billion or 10.4% share to the country’s GDP.

The industry supported 7.8 million jobs in 2021, which is a 20.5% increase in 2020. 

WTTC has an optimistic outlook for the sector in the coming years. It can fuel over US$155 billion in 2032 or 21.4% share to the country’s GDP. 

Last year, workcation or working vacations became a hot trend, benefiting the serviced apartment industry. Taking advantage of the remote work set-up, several professionals spent their workdays in leisure destinations for a change of scenery and a relief from cabin fever. 

Meanwhile, the hotel sector supported the government’s pandemic response operations, as some facilities were repurposed into isolation and quarantine facilities. Others served as temporary residence for healthcare workers and business process outsourcing agents who need a place to stay near the workplace.

Move Towards Regenerative Tourism

The DOT is eyeing to promote “regenerative tourism” moving forward from the pandemic, Inquirer reported. This refers to a kind of travel that focuses on sustainability, “leaving a destination in a better state than it was before.”

The behavior and preference of travelers shifted since the COVID-19 crisis, DOT said. They want outdoor, less-crowded, and open-air spaces. From the surveys the department organized, they found out that among the top considerations of tourists is sustainable tourism, on top of health, hygiene, and safety. 

The shift in travelers’ expectations in destinations can impact the real estate industry, in the same way that workcation and near-workplace residence affected the rental property sector last year. 

For one, there’s been a greater emphasis on green buildings, structures that are designed, constructed, and maintained to reduce negative envronmental impact. 

Earlier this year, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas revealed that it’s planning to provide higher loan values and use preferential rediscount rates to allow financial institutions to fund sustainable projects. 

A number of post-pandemic trends in the real estate industry will be tackled in the highly anticipated property conference to be organized by leading platform Lamudi. The Philippine Real Estate Conference is under The Outlook by Lamudi, a gathering of the most prominent and respected personalities discussing the latest news and developments in the sector.

Sources: Manila Bulletin, Philstar, Inquirer

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