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DOT: ‘Domestic-focused tourism to allow rollout of digital tools for new normal’

The whale shark watching activity in Oslob town in southern Cebu is among the tourism activities that are being readied for tourists as the province is now under MGCQ. | CDN file photo

CEBU CITY, Philippines — The deployment of digital tools is among the factors that the Department of Tourism sees as crucial as the tourism industry starts to open its gate, first, for local travelers.

DOT Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, in her keynote during the Smart Communication’s #TravelSmart Webinar Thursday, July 16, 2020, said a recent study has found that majority of those who are willing to travel, despite the absence of a vaccine, are at least expecting innovations for more contactless transactions.

These include self-service processes, electronic booking, and payment, contactless check-in, among others.

“Focusing on domestic tourism will provide an opportunity to roll out new digital tools while bringing back the livelihood of many Filipinos employed in the tourism sector,” Romulo-Puyat said.

The DOT, last June, has introduced the digital applications SafePass Express and Dine-In Express, which is specifically designed for restaurants to lessen interactions with guests when they browse through menus or order their meals.

In Cebu, the Capitol is now developing a web-based booking platform that will provide for cashless transactions as Cebu province gears towards reopening its tourism industry under the new normal.

Read: Capitol to develop online portal as it opens tourism industry

Last Wednesday, July 15, Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia met with tourism operators in the town to discuss the practices that it will implement, including the digitization of some transactions for its visitors.

Garcia also visited Moalboal town, also in the south, which is also famed for its beaches.

Romulo-Puyat said even the DOT offices use the SafePass app, enabling them to monitor who and how many of their personnel are inside the facility at a given time.

The Secretary said the app would also be a reliable tool should there be a need to conduct contact tracing as it would provide the data as to who was present in the office at the concerned period.

The features of SafePass include space planning, registration, and health questionnaire, which can be used in the booking and the check-in of guests; and protocol enforcement, and digital incident management.

The tourism chief said they have been conducting webinars to train the tourism stakeholders on the use of the app in preparation of the opening of the gates of the tourism industry safely “by phase.”

The digital programs, Romulo-Puyat said, can be used for free by the DOT-accredited establishments.

Romulo-Puyat said the restart of the tourism industry banks on the local tourism market to regain the confidence of the international market.

“After months of economic contraction and joblessness, we are thrilled to start the economy back up but not, of course, at the expense of public health and safety,” Romulo-Puyat said.

The DOT has already issued a set of guidelines that accommodation operators under MGCQ, the only quarantine status where tourism activity is permitted, and in the new normal.

Romulo-Puyat said further guidelines covering the Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions (MICE) sector, travel and tour operators, tour guides and tourist attractions will also follow.

These directives are consistent with the current global tourism best practices of the World Health Organization and the Department of Health,” Puyat said.

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