‘Going for quality, not quantity’: In allowing tourists back, Cebu warns vs COVID-19 protocol violation
CEBU CITY—Tourists planning to visit Cebu must heed COVID-19 health protocols set by the local government or face stiff penalties.
The Cebu Provincial Board, the province’s lawmaking body, on Monday (Sept. 28) passed an ordinance setting a P5,000 fine and one year of imprisonment for tourists who would refuse to heed health and safety rules in the province’s tourism sites.
“We need this ordinance because we have tourism stakeholders that are asking why some of them are implementing the province’s protocols while others are not,” said Board Member Andrei “Red” Duterte of Cebu’s fifth district and the ordinance’s main sponsor.
Aside from tourists, local officials, operators and employees of tourism establishments also face sanctions if they violate the ordinance.
The ordinance also requires tour site operators and owners of tourism-related businesses to acquire equipment to disinfect areas for tourism.
Tourism-related businesses were also advised to strictly follow the province-wide curfew of 12 midnight to 5 a.m.
In an earlier interview, Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia said the strict measures were not meant to discourage tourists from visiting the province but help tourism-related businesses, like hotels, resorts and restaurants and their employees, regain income during the COVID-19 crisis.
Garcia said those who wanted to visit the province’s tourist destinations must first register online at the portal managed by the Cebu Provincial Tourism Task Force.
Payments shall be made through money transfer, e-wallet service and other cashless payment options.
Once registration and payment are completed, guests shall be sent a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) confirmation code to their e-mails, Messenger or Viber accounts or any other similar platform.
The RFID shall be presented upon arrival in Cebu.
Guests with verified registration would get an RFID bracelet which must be worn at all times for the duration of their stay in the province.
Garcia said the rules were meant to limit the number of visitors, determine their destination in advance and allow quick and efficient contact tracing in case it was needed.
“This time around, we are not going for quantity but quality,” said Garcia. “We should not open our tourism industry abruptly. The right way to do it is gradually. We have to be able to manage this very, very carefully,” she said.
Activities allowed included whale shark watching, canyoneering, island-hopping, snorkelling, diving, beach leisure, sightseeing, zip lines, ATV riding, parasailing, hiking, trekking, mountaineering, spelunking or caving and visits to cultural heritage sites and museums.
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