'Light at end of tunnel': Opening of borders, easing of protocols to spur tourism

Aleta Nieva Nishimori, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 20 2021 01:16 PM | Updated as of Oct 20 2021 01:34 PM

A mother-and-son tourist from Quezon City visited Panglao, Bohol on Oct. 13, 2021 after age restrictions were lifted for interzonal travel from Metro Manila. Ronron Calunsod, ABS-CBN News
A mother-and-son tourist from Quezon City visited Panglao, Bohol on Oct. 13, 2021 after age restrictions were lifted for interzonal travel from Metro Manila. Ronron Calunsod, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - The travel agency sector on Wednesday said that prospects are looking good for the tourism industry as more borders are opening up and some COVID-19 restrictions are starting to ease.

“For sure, that is what we can call, a light at the end of the tunnel. So medyo naliliwanagan ang industriya namin ngayon sa pag-asa na nagre-relax yung mga protocol, nago-open up din ang mga destinations,” said Ritchie Tuaño, past president of the Philippine Travel Agencies Association and general manager of the Asia Reps Travel Services Incorporated.

(Our industry sees hope with protocols relaxing and destinations reopening.) 

Tuaño hopes that this would encourage more Filipinos to travel, even domestically, especially in December.

He said it may take time for the industry to recover from its losses due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“2020, almost 80 percent ang business losses compared to 2019. And that continued in 2021. Medyo matagal-tagal pa kaming makakabawi,” he said.

(Our business losses in 2020 was almost 80 percent compared to 2019. And that continued in 2021. It may take some time for us to recover.)

In an interview on TeleRadyo, Tuaño said many of their colleagues have temporarily closed down their offices as rentals take up a big portion of their cost, and decided to work from home. 

“Halos mag-dalawang taon na tayong naka-lockdown and pinakaapektado talaga d'yan, travel industry,” he said.

(We have been under lockdown for almost two years, and the most affected here is the travel industry.)

He said that it’s important to have a consistent ruling and implementation of protocols as different protocols enforced per destination is difficult for both the travel agents and travelers.

“While understandably there might be variations, but at least there should be some sort of standard na nasusundan at kokonti lamang ang deviation depending on the circumstances ng destination. I think that’s the most important intervention that we can ask the government, and this is a consolidated effort among the LGUs,” he said.

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