Staycations Allowed in GCQ Areas

To jumpstart the country’s tourism recovery, hotels in areas under the general community quarantine (GCQ) can already offer staycations to leisure travelers, Rappler reported.

The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) has given a greenlight on the tourism activity, following the Department of Tourism’s (DOT) recommendation of finding new ways to resume establishments’ operations amid the pandemic.

The capital region is among the areas under GCQ.

According to the DOT, a staycation involves a minimum of overnight stay for leisure purposes in an accredited establishment located near one’s place of residence. An individual living in the capital region can, therefore, spend a hotel staycation within Metro Manila.

The tourism office will soon release a memorandum circular, outlining the specifics of the staycation policy, including maximum number of guests in a room and use of ancillary services, such as dining areas and recreational facilities.

Good News for Operators

The Hotel Sales and Marketing Association (HSMA) Philippines welcomed the development, Manila Bulletin reported. The group acknowledged that tourism establishments already have safety and sanitation measures in place, which are conducive for accepting guests again.

Back in May, the DOT issued health and safety guidelines for accommodations operations. In terms of handling guests, operators must hand out health declaration forms upon check-in, inspect body temperatures, and encourage physical distancing, hand hygiene, and respiratory etiquette. A tour of the guest room is discouraged.

In the aspect of housekeeping, the staff must have proper training on the use of disinfectants and sanitizing solutions. They should also have the correct personal protective equipment during clean-up. For rooms used by a suspected infected individual, the personnel must have additional protective equipment, including disposable or washable coverall and protective shoe covers.

In terms of food services, the DOT encouraged serving of individually-packed meals. Accommodations operators must sanitize grab-and-go stations every after use.

Timely Development

HSMA considers the permitting of staycations in establishments timely, considering their offering of major hotel deals for tourists this month.

A number of accommodations nationwide slashed their rates up to 70 percent in the industry’s first September Online Sale (SOS), as reported by the Philippine News Agency (PNA). Running from September 15 to 30, the promo has deals valid up to a year and further. Some have no expiration date. These consist of huge discounts on certain types of rooms, add-on services, such as massages and tours, and specific packages, including those of weddings and business meetings.

Interested buyers can choose from 89 hotels and resorts in eight destinations: Manila, Pasay, Makati/Bonifacio Global City, the Ortigas Business Center, Quezon City, Northern Luzon, southern Luzon, Boracay, Visayas, and Palawan/Mindanao. Such accommodations, according to HSMA, passed the strict standards on health and hygiene.

The group hopes to attract corporate clients, medical workers, event specialists, and local travelers eyeing to go on a vacation again.

On the SOS platform, tourists can use the search filter to find the best deals in destinations they prefer.

Promotion of Domestic Travel

Ever since talks of pandemic recovery began to float, the DOT and other industry experts have promoted local tourism, targeting to create “travel bubbles” within the country. They are confident that the exchange of travelers between areas that have zero or few cases of COVID-19 can promote tourism recovery, while keeping travelers safe, Philstar reported back then.

Baguio City has been partnered with certain towns and cities in the Ilocos region to create such a travel corridor. The municipality will be conducting a dry run this week, as mentioned in this ABS-CBN report. Tourists must go through triage and antigen tests for coronavirus to ensure safety of resumed operations.

Last June, Boracay opened its doors to tourists coming from Western Visayas, easing age restrictions the month after.

Funds on the Way

While the industry works towards rebooting tourism activities, it is likewise expectant of the P4.1-billion allocation under the Bayanihan 2 law, signed last September 11, Rappler reported. The tourism infrastructure will receive P1 billion from the budget, while P3 billion will go to assistance efforts for the displaced tourism workers.

The government allocated an additional P6 billion for tourism micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), as well as P100 million for tourist guide training and subsidies.

Sources: Rappler, Manila Bulletin, DOT, PNA, HSMA, Philstar, ABS-CBN

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