Philippines Consider Phuket Sandbox Model for Tourism Reopening

As they prepare for the reopening of international borders, the Philippines is exploring the possibility of replicating the Phuket Sandbox model, while working to facilitate travel protocols.

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat told the Philippine Travel Exchange (PHITEX) 2021 in Subic that as early as May this year the government had already worked on the establishment of greenways, similar to the Phuket Sandbox program. which allows fully vaccinated travelers from at-risk countries to enter the Thai resort island without quarantine.

The Philippines wants to replicate Thailand’s Sandbox program; Tourists at Casa Manila in Intramuros, Manila pictured

Romulo-Puyat stressed that as authorities want to ease travel restrictions, especially for fully vaccinated tourists, more Filipinos are being vaccinated while all tourism workers in the country are expected to be vaccinated before the end of the year.

It is “imperative” for the Philippines to return to the international arena and the sandbox model “appears to be the most viable” given its direct air access, said C9 Hotelworks general manager Bill Barnett.

“Cebu is the logical choice given that it is an island and has direct international routes,” Barnett said.

Meanwhile, in a webinar from the British Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Santos Knight Frank, Under Secretary for Tourism Verna Buensuceso said travel corridors in Asia are possible because they are considering green lanes with, for example , with South Korea, Taiwan and Japan going directly to specific destinations. destinations in the Philippines.

It can include specialty charters to destinations ready to accept foreign visitors with specialized protocols for inbound groups, Buensuceso said.

And as the country braces for foreign arrivals, especially for those fully vaccinated, Buensuceso said authorities “are considering coming up with protocols that will be a bit more flexible compared to what we have today.” .

She said the country is also examining the “interoperability within our own system” of the EU Covid certificate and the IATA travel pass, although it is also “in the process of putting together a vaccination passport for our own. needs”.

“We are now exploring these avenues to make travel a little more convenient between destinations and markets,” Buensuceso explained.

She estimated a payback period of two and a half to four years for Philippine tourism, as this is also the perspective of the international landscape according to projections by UNWTO, PATA and WTTC.

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