Prioritising the safety of travellers

The Department of Tourism in Philippines has hosted a series of three virtual dinners this year. The first Middle East CEOs Virtual Dinner was held on June 23, 2021 for trade partners from the Gulf while the second Middle East Virtual Dinner took place on Aug 18, 2021. This virtual dinner was for trade partners from UAE & Oman.  The third Middle East Virtual Dinner held on Aug 25, 2021 had leading travel agents from Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and Bahrain attending the event. It was discussed how GCC is way ahead of most of the world in terms of the vaccination drive. SanJeet, Director, Durga Das Publications – a market representative for the Middle East, opened the session by sharing the current realities in the Middle East market. The small get together was organised to provide a from the ground update on what is happening in the Philippines and its different islands and to stay in touch with trade partners. Daks Gonzales, Head – Product and Market Development, Philippine Department of Tourism – Middle East, said, “The good news is that we are definitely on our way with the goal of full vaccination of the citizens. As of now, 15 million people eligible for vaccination have been vaccinated with the two doses and another 15 million of the population have been vaccinated with a single dose. Our current supply is enough to provide all those who have had their first vaccination. They will receive their second vaccination in the next month or within this month. An additional 60 million vaccines are going to be arriving from September 1, 2021 which means that an additional 60 million or 30 million people will be vaccinated in the next 45 days starting from September 1, 2021. We are targeting 70 to 80 per cent of the population which must be vaccinated as soon as possible.

He added, “Our industry and our stakeholders here in the Philippines have been very busy in trying to implement all the safety protocols. The position of the Philippine Government is to be able to provide maximum safety to all its travellers be they from the domestic/international market. The utmost priority of the government is to ensure that every traveller that enters the Philippines gets the best possible security in terms of the COVID problem.”

“In the last month, together with my team I have been inspecting various properties and tourism facilities to aid them on the proper ways of applying health and safety protocols. We have had huge success in receiving travel stamp approvals from the WTTC and international accreditation of the level of implementation of the health and safety protocols. The Department of Tourism is also very busy in prioritising and providing vaccination to all tourism frontliners and to date we have reached a very good figure of 90 per cent and within the next 30 days we believe that we will achieve 100 per cent vaccination for all tourism frontliners. We are also quite busy in putting together possibilities of providing better access into the Philippines and its islands or travel destinations. We are very hopeful that point to point connections made by air landers will be established at the earliest. The Department of Tourism with its stakeholders is prioritising the health and safety of travellers into the Philippines. Our stakeholders are working very hard in these times to provide such assurance to the international market,” shared Gonzales.

Overall, the three virtual dinners saw the participation of 75 travel trade professionals. The successful events garnered a lot of appreciation for the Department of Tourism’s efforts to connect with trade partners from the ME.