By J. Jala | 12:30 AM December 09, 2020
The province of Bohol will finally welcome individual tourists starting Dec. 15, including those from areas under general community quarantine (GCQ).
Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat announced Tuesday that the Department of Tourism (DOT), through its marketing arm Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) will be allocating P10 million subsidy for the province for the low-cost COVID-19 reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) testing.
During a virtual press briefing, Bohol Gov. Arthur Yap said senior citizens and minors alike would also be allowed to visit the island.
“We cannot delay the reopening of Bohol,” Yap said.
He said travelers are required to submit a negative RT-PCR test conducted 72 hours prior to travel. They must also have a pre-arranged booking at DOT-certified accommodation establishments and tour operators as Do-It-Yourself (DIY) travels are now prohibited. They must also register through the province’s website http://www.centralbooking.myboholtouristcard.com to validate the travel request.
Once approved, the local government unit (LGU) will issue a contract tracing card bearing a unique QR code which will serve as a pass upon entry and while in Bohol.
But Yap said if a tourist exhibits COVID-19 symptoms on the fifth day of his/her stay in the province, the concerned accommodation establishment will be required to contact the LGU for the tourist’s confirmatory test.
The reopening for general tourists came weeks after Bohol started allowing groups to hold their MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences, exhibitions) events in the island province.
But aside from granting travelers their much-needed rest and recreation after months of being cooped up at home, Romulo-Puyat said this move would also revive the once-thriving tourism industry on the island and help displaced tourism workers regain their jobs.
“Tourism comprises 70 percent of the livelihood of Bohol and we are here because we want to revive tourism, we want to restart tourism, gusto nating ibalik ‘yong trabaho (we want to bring back the jobs),” she said.
“It just goes to prove that tourism is really everybody’s business at importante talaga siya sa ekonomiya (it’s important to our economy),” she noted.
For Cesar Cruz, president of the Philippine Tour Operators Association (PHILTOA), Bohol’s reopening next week could be a “good template” of what has been often referred to as jumpstarting tourism amid the pandemic.
“I think this is a good start… I think at this point, Bohol is very much ready,” he said during the presser.