Philippines to mount 'nationwide sale' with virus safeguards: tourism chief


Posted at Feb 18 2020 09:54 AM | Updated as of Feb 18 2020 10:03 AM

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MANILA -- The Philippines will hold its first ever nationwide shopping mall sale in March, seeking to lure local and foreign tourists, and with measures to prevent the spread of a new coronavirus strain, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said Tuesday.

It will be the Philippines' version of other countries' "great sale" wherein people fly in just to shop. Shopping malls across Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao will participate in the month-long retail event, Puyat told ANC's Headstart.

"We actually planned this months ago but we decided to continue it for the whole month of March," Puyat said.

Puyat said participating malls would implement all measures required by the Department of Health to prevent the spread of COVID-19. She said shoppers who don't feel well should refrain from joining the sale.
"Again, with the Department of Health, as long as precautionary measures are in place it's okay to have that nationwide sale," she said.

Shoppers will be screened for body temperature before they are allowed inside the malls. Disinfectant will also be made available, she said.

The nationwide mall sale is just one of the moves of the DOT to spur tourism. In a meeting last week with President Rodrigo Duterte, Puyat said local airlines and hotels agreed to lower rates.

Manila has imposed a travel ban to China and its special administrative regions Hong Kong and Macau due to the coronavirus scare.

"Unlike the SARS, H1N1 and the MERs there was no ban just precautionary measures, be careful. But now there's a travel ban that automatically removes China market, Hong Kong market, and Macau market," she said.

Only Filipinos and permanent resident visa holders are allowed to enter the Philippines. Filipinos are also temporarily barred from traveling to China.

"It is more of intensifying your marketing promotions to those countries that are not affected for them to know it's safe, no local transmission here in the country," she said.

China is the Philippines second largest source of foreign tourist arrivals after South Korea, according to DOT data.