The tourism industry will be significantly changed once travel activities have been allowed as part of the measures to combat the COVID-19 global pandemic.
The “new normal” will require strict enforcement of health security standards for both travelers and tourism workers. The tourism industry as a whole will need to undergo “re-training” of the entire system of methods and operations.
In a Go Negosyo virtual forum on May 12, Department of Tourism Secretary, Romulo-Puyat said the capacity of air and land transport is also expected to go down.
“In the past food, culture, and immersion were among the primary influences behind a traveler’s choice of destination. Moving forward, safety would be the paramount concern of most, if not all our visitors. There’s no going back to the way things were, we are all going to have to accept the new normal in travel,” she said.
Secretary Romulo-Puyat said DOT will propose more measures from regular disinfection of accommodations and transport services as well as provisions for personal protective equipment for tourism workers. Further, the DOT will recommend an online system to digitally facilitate tourism-related transactions.
While the world adjusts to the “new normal”, Romulo-Puyat said Manila will focus on attracting local tourists and short-haul markets such as those within Southeast Asian nations.
“By tapping into our domestic and short-haul markets through effective targeted marketing, we can bypass some of the considerable challenges we face following this pandemic. With the confidence to travel at a low point, let us capitalize on the low-hanging fruit within our borders while the rest of the world slowly regains its footing,” she said.
Tourism Congress of the Philippines President Jose Clemente III agreed that domestic tourists are the “first segment of travelers” to go once measures are eased.
“As confidence grows with regard to flights and as destinations start to ease their restrictions as well, then that’s when we can probably start looking at more wide-scale domestic travel. But to be realistic about it, we don’t see that happening for another few months,” he said. Further elaborating that the country needs to build up the confidence of travelers to just go back on airplanes and get protocols in place.
“We have to make sure that the destinations themselves are already prepared to take in domestic tourists. In essence, the domestic travelers will be the guinea pigs so to speak for the international market later on,” Clemente added.
For Mink Metmowlee, President of the ASEAN Tourism Association, countries unify marketing efforts of the member states of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) as “one”.
“Every tourism boards should promote and show what other ASEAN destinations has already done by creating a system about the new normal that we call… and that we have the same standard in ASEAN,” she said.