LGUs urged to step up, bolster health systems as tourism picks up

The largest business group in the country is urging local government units (LGUs) to strengthen their health-care systems now that protocols have been eased to jump-start tourism.

In a statement, Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) president Benedicto V. Yujuico underscored “the need for LGUs to go [above] and beyond what is being required by the guidelines of the national government agencies.”

This means “investing in health-care systems” in order to lure tourists who now think of “health and safety first.”

PCCI issued the statement on the heels of a resolution from the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases saying that travelers are no longer required to undergo COVID-19 testing, unless the LGU of destination says otherwise. Tourists are also no longer required to undergo quarantine unless they show symptoms.

 

Uphill climb

The new rules form part of the Duterte administration’s efforts to ease economic restrictions, as the fight against COVID-19 remains an uphill climb, with new and more infectious variations of the virus being discovered, and without enough vaccines on hand to protect all health workers.

Domestic tourism is important to restarting the economy, PCCI said. Citing data from the Philippine Statistics Authority, PCCI said that from 2000 to 2018, tourism’s contribution to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) averaged 7.4 percent.

 

In 2018 and 2019, the sector’s contribution grew to 12.7 percent, providing livelihood and employment to 5.71 million Filipinos, PCCI said.

In the same statement, the group said it was giving its “full support” to the decision of the government to streamline travel rules and regulations in tourist destinations.

But to revive the domestic tourism especially at this time, Yujuico stressed the importance of effective health measures.

“Investing in infection control facilities such as widespread availability of disinfectants, improvement of ventilation, and redesigning of spaces to allow greater social distancing are significant to reinvigorate the industry and it will benefit the constituents as well,” Yujuico said.


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