By Rey Anthony H. Chiu, PIA-Bohol | 01: 27 AM November 18, 2020
Two days before Bohol opens its doors to further open up its economy by adopting the Department of Tourism (DOT) concept of travel bubble in Panglao island, Gov. Arthur Yap has set up the implementing guidelines for the strategy that assures tourists and locals are protected from possible transmission of the dreaded corona virus disease (Covid-19).
Executive Order No. 53, which immediately took effect on Nov. 13, formally laid down the requirements for inbound tourists who may come in for meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions (MICE) and events, with at least six attendees from outside the province.
And by events, the EO states that these include weddings, reunions, anniversaries, birthdays, and similar celebrations.
According to the executive order, inbound tourists would need a confirmed booking in an accommodation establishment in Panglao or Dauis, which has acquired a DOT Certificate of Authority to Operate or the Ultimate Bohol Experience (UBE) seal from the provincial government.
Inbound tourists must also be able to present a negative Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) Test from a Department of Health-accredited RT PCR Laboratory, not earlier than 72 hours prior to the date of travel for them to be allowed entry to Bohol.
These tourists are strongly advised to observe strict quarantine immediately after undergoing the RT PCR until their travel to Bohol.
That also means they would have to pre-register through the Bohol Tourist Registration portal via http://www.tourism.bohol.gov.ph.
When registered, registrants are given necessary information and instruction on the policies and assigned a personal Quick Response Code serving as their visitor ID to Bohol.
While all inbound tourists are mandated to strictly observe health and safety protocols: wear masks, wash hands frequently, and maintain social or physical distancing at all times.
Upon check-in at the airport or upon arrival, they will have to present a copy of their negative test results by RT PCR.
In the absence of RT PCR results, they will have to sign an undertaking stating that they will take an RT PCR test upon arrival, and undergo strict quarantine until the negative RT PCR test result is issued.
Incoming tourists should then bring an electronic copy of their documents including the QR Code which would be scanned upon entrance and exit of all visited establishments in Bohol.
This facilitates contact easier tracing while in Bohol.
Tourists staying for over five days must undergo a repeat RT PCR on the fifth day of their stay, according to the EO.
Upon arrival in Bohol, all tourists would be fetched by the transport service of the accommodation establishment where they will stay, or they can also be picked up by a pre-booked tourist transport service provider who will bring them to their pre-booked accommodation establishments.
While in transit, stopovers are not allowed nor can tourists be allowed to meet friends, relatives, or acquaintances outside the tourism bubble.
For locals who would be joining tourists in meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibits and events, they will have to be quarantined for five days and be tested via RT PCR and would only be released to go home once they obtain a negative RT PCR result.
For tourists visiting tourist spots, they can do so only when these are organized through DOT accredited travel and tour operator, because travel will only be through sites which bear the UBE seal and accompanied by DOT-accredited tour guides and LGU-licensed community tour guides.
Stops are only allowed in designated areas and tour operators have to strictly follow pre-set itinerary, never deviating from the same.
By then, there would be no walk-in tourists, according to the EO.
In cases when a guest exhibits COVID-19 symptoms, he would be immediately isolated and be tested through RT PCR, while the tour guide or operator would have the responsibility to contact the medical response team for assessment and care.
Overall supervision and monitoring of the Bohol tourist bubble protocols rest upon the Bohol Tourism Office. (rahc/PIA-7/Bohol)