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The hospitality and leisure industry was one of the hardest-hit sectors by the COVID-19 pandemic in the Philippines. The strict community quarantines and shutdowns of hotels, resorts, and leisure facilities have dented one of the top economic drivers in the country for over seven months under the lockdown.

After the long wait, the Department of Tourism has finally given the go signal for Boracay to receive visitors from areas under general community quarantine (GCQ). With the approval of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID), DOT Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat announced the reopening of the country’s domestic tourism starting with Boracay.

“What could be a better way to herald the revival of Philippine tourism than the reopening of the world-renowned Boracay Island?” Secretary Puyat said in an interview.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque also noted that this initiative is to scaffold the country’s road to recovery which highlights the slow transition to the new normal across all sectors. “It means we need to balance the reality that workers of the tourism sector must now resume work,” he said in a presser.

Travel in the New Normal

Despite the go signal for domestic travel, DOT stated that international tourists are yet to be accommodated to “focus on the revival of the country’s domestic tourism industry.” However, Secretary Puyat previously announced the possible opening of travel bubbles and corridors with neighboring countries.

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She also announced that domestic and international travel in the Philippines will soon be aided by digital tools to ensure the protection and security of all tourists. DOT has partnered with private companies that develop systems for contactless travel transactions from booking to payment.

Local Tourism and Staycations

DOT also announced that hotels and other lodging facilities in areas under general community quarantine (GCQ) can already accept reservations and bookings for staycations. Secretary Puyat defined staycation under the new normal as a "minimum overnight stay for leisure purposes" in a DOT-accredited accommodation establishment located near one’s residence.

Administrative Order 2020-002 allows hotels, resorts, homestays, and other accommodation facilities to accept tourists and business travelers in GCQ areas, strictly limiting their capacity by half. Provinces under GCQ or MGCQ have already resumed local tourism activities, following strict guidelines and monitoring from the government.

Once the epicenter of the pandemic in the Philippines, Cebu becomes one of the first few provinces to transition into the new normal. Local tourist sites have been slowly reopening to the public as the active cases in the province continue to decline.

“COVID-19 is an unprecedented crisis that caused drastic impacts across the globe. It drew uncertainty towards the hotel industry, especially to our local operations,” Charisse Mae Zonio, Sales and Marketing Executive of Tambuli Seaside Resort and Spa pointed out. “Due to the pandemic, we have temporarily stopped operations and room reservations. We have also canceled multiple events,” she added.

After a few months of mass testing, intensive contact tracing, and joint efforts from the government and private sectors, Cebu is on its way to flattening the curve.

“While the situation gets better, we know that the battle is far from over,” Zonio said. “Hoteliers should be able to gain the trust and confidence of the public that their safety is their top priority as the tourism activities resume.”

The resort’s condotel counterpart, Tambuli Seaside Living, has also resumed opening their doors to offer a different kind of ‘home’ post-lockdown. Putting the safety and security of their guests and residents in mind, the management is very strict in implementing government-imposed measures and added internal initiatives to prevent the spread of COVID-19 within their premises.

“From the beginning, the security, and health of our guests as well as our team members are of the utmost importance and our highest priority. Our team has been actively making elevated safety and sanitation protocols to ensure we provide safety and flexibility for our guests,” she added.

READ MORE: The Importance of Public Health in Communities

Tambuli has been implementing strict physical distancing, thorough sanitation and disinfection, proper use and disposal of protective gear, and contactless transactions. These measures do not only protect guests but also to safeguard the employees themselves.

"The pandemic has undeniable drastic effects on the economy and tourism of Cebu. Moreover, it also impacted the way Cebuanos view and prioritize their health and well-being as defense from health hazards,” Zonio stated. “This remarkable experience has instilled in our minds how important it is to be mindful of how we take care of ourselves and others.”

WATCH: Tambuli in the New Normal

“We know that higher standard & demand of cleanliness are expected in all hotels, with the duty of care we safeguard your safety and well-being. It is during these times where the community must be galvanized, and hospitality matters most,” she stated.

Need your own property management team? Contact us today and let’s discuss what we can do for your business. Reach out to Faren Panopio at (+63) 917-843-4973. You may also inquire through (+63) 2-8403-5519 or [email protected].