The Philippines’ tourism industry was one of the most affected sectors when the coronavirus spread in the archipelago. A lot of establishments and tourist destinations were forced to temporarily shut down due to travel restrictions being imposed by the national government to prevent the virus from wreaking further havoc nationwide. Others weren’t so lucky and had to permanently close their doors. 

According to the Department of Tourism (DOT), the country lost over Php 400 billion in 2020 because of the pandemic and it continues to do so as the tourism sector grapples to stand once again. 

Although things are not quite back to normal yet, the country is seeing improvements in tourism this second half of 2021.

Easing of Travel Restrictions

With the virus outbreak now relatively under control and the government continuing with its inoculation drive, travel restrictions have been dialed down and more freedom has been afforded to the public, especially those who’ve been vaccinated.

Intrazonal and interzonal movements in Metro Manila and surrounding provinces have become easier for the inoculated thanks to the Inter-Agency Task Force’s (IATF) Resolution 124-B. 

Those who’ve received full doses of the COVID-19 vaccine will only have to present their vaccination cards to enter establishments and tourist spots, though this is limited to areas under General Community Quarantine (GCQ) and Modified General Community Quarantine (MGCQ).

Fully vaccinated individuals are those: 

  • Received the second shot of a two-dose vaccine at least two weeks ago.
  • Received a single-dose vaccine for more than or equal to two weeks.
  • The vaccine administered to the individual must be included in any of the following – EUA List or Compassionate Special Permit issued by the Philippine Food and Drug Administration and the Emergency Use Listing of the World Health Organization.

Local government units (LGUs) may still enforce their safety protocols to tourists if they deem necessary, which can include the presentation of negative RT-PCR tests before entry. 

This easing of travel protocols has bolstered domestic tourism in the NCR Plus region, which includes Metro Manila, Bulacan, Laguna, Cavite, and Rizal. 

Children over five years old are now allowed to go out of their homes after the release of IATF’s Resolution 125 but need to be constantly accompanied by a guardian. The same rules are applied to fully vaccinated senior citizens.

However, both are only allowed to travel to areas under MGCQ and GCQ ‘with some restrictions’ as they’re still forbidden to go to places under GCQ ‘with heightened restrictions.’

For areas under GCQ with some restrictions – like Metro Manila, Rizal, and Bulacan – indoor tourist attractions, historical sites, and museums may operate at 40 percent capacity. Meanwhile, outdoor tourist attractions can function at 50 percent and should abide by minimum public health protocols. 

For those under GCQ with heightened restrictions – like Laguna and Cavite – outdoor tourist attractions are allowed at 30 percent capacity and should strictly follow public safety protocols.

Road to Recovery

As we all know, the country is still far from fully recovering from the pummeling it received from the COVID-19 global pandemic, but things are starting to look up with travel restrictions being slowly pulled back and vaccinations continuing. Even so, some experts don’t expect the tourism sector in the country to return to its esteem until three or four years, specifically due to the industry’s heavy reliance on face-to-face interaction and mobility. 

Although this is what’s foreseen, with all the progress that’s been achieved so far and efforts to prop the industry up, Philippine tourism is definitely on its way to recovery and will play a big role in the overall recuperation of the economy.

Want more news like this one? Head over to Nation Builder PH Travel Section for the latest updates.

Image credit: Basilio H. Sepe / Majority World / Universal Images Group via Getty Images.