Invest in health systems, LGUs told

A business organization has welcomed the government’s decision to streamline rules on traveling to the country’s tourist spots, but urged local government units (LGUs) to further strengthen their health-care systems.

In a statement on Wednesday, Benedicto Yujuico, president of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said domestic tourism could be a major catalyst in restarting the country’s economy, but noted that more investments in the health-care systems in tourism destinations were needed.

Investing in these systems “must be central to tourism planning, now that Covid-19 is driving tourists to think about their health and safety first,” he added.

According to him, LGUs should go beyond what is required by state agencies’ guidelines.
“Investing in infection-control facilities, such as [the] widespread availability of disinfectants, improvement of ventilation, and redesigning of spaces to allow greater social distancing, [is needed] to reinvigorate the industry and it will benefit the constituents, as well,” Yujuico said.

The statement comes after the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) approved uniform travel protocols for LGUs, wherein travelers are no longer required to present the results of their reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction tests unless specified by the local government.

The harmonization of travel protocols would further facilitate travel movement, flow of goods and services, and boost local tourism, according to the PCCI.

Citing data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), the group said tourism’s contribution to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) averaged 7.4 percent from 2000 to 2018. It also provided 5.71 million jobs in 2018 and 2019, it added.

Meanwhile, Samie Lim, chairman of the PCCI’s tourism committee, cited the importance of public and private partnerships to further revive the industry.

“If the public and private sector work as one, we can find the solution of bringing people from their homes to Covid-free bubble destinations through a secured travel system for a safe vacation. Safe travel routes will allow us to go on vacation again,” Lim said.

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