The Philippines is reportedly working on travel bubble arrangements with several Asian countries as some countries in the region begin to loosen travel restrictions.
Bong Benzon, Department of Tourism Undersecretary, said: “We’ve done some preparatory work, more or less which destination in Southeast Asia or at least in Asia will be part of the travel bubble program, which will most likely involve our resort destinations.”
However, he did not confirm when the program would begin and what countries could be involved.
To date, travel bubble arrangements in the Philippines have been still confined to domestic destinations. Domestic tourism accounts for about 80 to 85 percent of total tourism revenue of the country.
On 23 November, Siargao in Surigao Del Norte, which is considered the country’s surfing capital, opened its doors to tourists anew, following the reopening of Baguio City and Boracay in October.
Benzon said: “All domestic destinations are open to all Filipinos. International traffic is still restricted. But we’re hoping that over time we’ll be able to increase the numbers of Filipinos moving around. Siargao is a gem of a destination.”
He added: “We are confident in the next few months, with our focus on domestic tourism, will be able to generate enough income to tide us over as we go through this difficult time.”
The Philippines is badly hit by the coronavirus with more than 420,000 total cases to date and over 8,000 deaths. The Philippine government has allocated some 10.1 billion pesos under the Bayanihan 2 law to support the reopening of local tourist destinations. Some 6 billion pesos funds were earmarked as capital loans for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and 3 billion pesos financial assistance to displaced tourism workers.