Conditions in the country when it comes to travel and tourism remain fluid as the industry remain closed.
Presently, it is always a developing story. What is available or permitted now may not be the same in a few days, next week, or next. month. It is difficult to rely on other people’s plans and forecasts because it is understandably a way for them to draw up interest that they are still in business and still relevant during these times.
Government and the private sector should be careful not to issue press releases that will encourage false hopes especially if it involves expenses by the public. Cash is very hard to come by nowadays and to go through the effort of getting refunds adds to the burden, plus there is an added value in the money you spent after suffering from months-long lockdowns.
Countries like Thailand and Vietnam have come up with news that they will open their tourism businesses by next month; but what they are not saying is that it will be your own risk. It maybe true that they have zero cases in their hospitals but there is no vaccine yet developed. The possibility of infecting yourself and your loved ones is of prime consideration, add to that more expensive air tickets and tours, quarantine protocols, social distancing guidelines in their own countries, flight cancellations, hospitalization expenses (none, hopefully) among others. This is your responsibility, not the country you are visiting. I suggest you get vaccinated first before traveling, but when will that be?
Likewise, when we invite people to visit our country, are we that confident enough that we can maintain standard protocols to be responsible? Will we promote tourism when lives are at stake? Will it be greed against vigilance?
Despite the efforts of DOT to be creative and visible through this time, what is important to relay to the general public that the DOT can only make decisions based on their mandate. The DOT cannot make decisions that will run counter to the concerns of other agencies even if it is related to travel and tourism. Other government agencies like DOTr for transportation, DOH for health, PNO for security, DENR, and DILG. Take for example when GCQ was announced starting June 1 so airlines started posting announcements to sell tickets only to be recalled by CAB.
Taking the fun out of dine-in
In going through our lives, we make plans; but, these are uncertain times and decisions turn liquid sometimes. The Covid virus rules.
The latest news is that hotels and restaurants can open on 50% capacity under MGCQ conditions ( a more relaxed GCQ before the new normal). Again, we build hopes that by June 15, we can somewhat enjoy some leisure associated with dining out that we missed for months. Then again, let’s not get our hopes up because reaching MGCQ status entails “scientific “data, according to the IATF.
It is, however, important to dissect the conditions that will allow us to enter restaurants. There are steps to go through before you can seat yourself comfortably and order your chosen meal. For those going to work, If it takes , at least, 10 minutes to queue, another 5 minutes to fulfill requirements, 5 minutes to order, and another 10 minutes to wait ( I am being positive here), you would have taken up 30 minutes already out of your precious lunch break and you haven’t eaten yet. It is a different story but altogether frustrating for leisure dining. Why do we eat out? In my case, it is for meeting friends, being with family, trying new menus, talking office politics with peers, even brain storming. With a cap on groups and limited time to eat (considering the queues and curfews), it takes away most of the fun.
Restaurants should dig deep into their deep bag of tricks to lessen the added load that we will all face on lunch breaks; or maybe offices can be more considerate and extend it.