Now’s the time for Pinoys to tour their own country

 

 

By Rose de la Cruz

 

With an expected loss of at least P9 billion in tourism receipts, mostly from Chinese visitors whose travel is now restricted as a result of the Huwan corona virus, now is the time for Filipinos to tour their own country and visit scenic spots they have foregone previously in favor of foreign travel.

 

Many countries have also restricted entry of foreign nationals because of the mysterious Wuhan corona virus strain that has gripped many parts of the world and is fast spreading.

 

Since the country is yet not burdened by the transferrable virus—with no known cure except for prevention through personal hygiene--- it is advisable then that this coming summer be spent by Filipino families within their own borders.

 

Tourism officials from both public and private sectors are appealing to the nationalism of Filipino travelers to help the country cope with the expected decline from Chinese visitors in the country.

 

Though they admit that Korea, Japan and other South East Asian neighbors have not yet adopted such travel restrictions for their citizens, still the best way to cover for the shortfall is from domestic tourism is domestic tourism, they said in a One News TV talk show of TV5.

 

They are also asking the carriers, local and foreign, to be a bit more lenient and “for the moment forego charging penalties for flight cancellations or no show by passengers due to the virus’ emergency. A little sacrifice like this would not hurt them but would show that they still have a heart in their business during such exigencies,” they said.

 

Also, hotels and restaurants were asked to invest more in hygiene materials—like alcohol, hand sanitizers and other cleaning aids—to ensure the health of their clients.

 

Borders Exposed

 

Legislators said on Wednesday the Wuhan coronavirus debacle has exposed cracks in the border security systems of the Philippines as they suggested various urgent measures and longer-term action to address future viral scare.

 

"The crowding at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport of passengers barred entry can pose a public health risk because of higher chances of close personal contact with anyone among the passengers  who could be carrying the Wuhan coronavirus," said Rep. Juliette T. Uy (Misamis Oriental 2nd District) and member of the House committee on transportation.

 

"The returning Filipinos from China, Macau and Hong Kong should go through a different terminal area of NAIA or perhaps a quarantine field set-up where they can all be checked, tested, and processed," Uy also said.

 

She suggested, "barred foreign nationals should be in a contained or cordoned-off area. NAIA and airline personnel attending to them should have proper personal protective equipment and supplies."

 

"Personnel of foreign embassies may have to be physically present or have some form of online or remote access, so they can attend to any travel and consular concerns," said Uy who is also a member of the committee on foreign affairs.

 

AKO BICOL Party-list Rep. Alfredo Garbin Jr said, "it would be prudent for our government to seek advice from countries which are not on the list of countries with confirmed and suspected Wuhan coronavirus patients."

 

"New Zealand (as of February 4) has some of the world's most stringent quarantine laws and regulations. The New Zealand government through its embassy here in Manila might be able to present us with valuable advice on appropriate quick responses, as well as medium-term and long-term solutions through revisions of laws and regulations," Garbin added.

 

He pointed out that the fact the coronavirus was able to enter our country "points to cracks in our quarantine and biohazard shield at the airports and the rest of the transport and tourism sectors."

 

"DOT belatedly issued its coronavirus advisory only last February 1. The African swine flu was able to reach Davao Occidental. ASF entered the country through improper food waste disposal that infected hog feed supply in Quezon City and from there, spread out to other areas. The poliovirus discovered in Basilan was found by World Health Organization to be genetically-linked to the polio spreading in Sabah, Malaysia," Garbin noted.

 

Guard exotic food imports

 

 "We may also have to be on guard against imports of exotic foods from China meant for consumption here in our country. There could be a need for much stricter phytosanitary and biohazard measures," he said.

 

"There could very well be a need for faster data exchange, with necessary data security measures, on passenger manifests of airlines, buses, and interisland ships and guest bookings in hotel and other tourism facilities. Our buses and sea ferries still use manual means of creating passenger manifests. Faster access to passenger manifests and details would make contact tracing much better than what we have now," Garbin, Vice-Chair of the House Committee on Justice noted. "

 

Lastly, sound food safety and daily personal hygiene should be daily habits. of every Filipino and every Filipino family," said Garbin Member of the House Committee on Health.

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