Cebu mulls offering single-jab vax to unvaccinated foreign tourists
CEBU CITY, Philippines – As part of its plans to accept foreign tourists again, the provincial government of Cebu is eyeing to offer COVID-19 vaccines to unvaccinated travelers.
In a recent press interview, Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia announced that the Capitol has been in talks with stakeholders of Cebu’s tourism and travel industry in anticipation of the country’s reopening to foreign arrivals.
Garcia told members of the media that one of the suggestions raised during their meeting was to provide a single-jab vaccine to unvaccinated foreign travelers.
“Naay suggestion gani nga katong Category B and C, i-quarantine man, mag swab-upon-arrival then quarantine. Unya tagaan ug choice: if you want to take the single jab, mu-vaccinate ta. That’s a choice of course. We will make it available. Single-jab vaccine lang sa,” said Garcia.
Based on the latest resolution from the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF), tourists from at least 157 countries may enter the Philippines starting this February 10, quarantine-free.
They will only have to present proof that they have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and negative RT-PCR tests are taken at least 48 hours prior to their arrival.
Unvaccinated travelers, on the other hand, will have to undergo the mandatory, facility-based quarantine and swab tests to be conducted by local health authorities.
On Monday, February 7, Garcia met with the Consuls General from South Korea, Japan, and China, and representatives from Central Visayas offices of the Department of Tourism (DOT), Department of Health (DOH), and the Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA), Hotel Resort and Restaurant Association of Cebu (HRRAC), airline companies, and tour operators as the province prepares to welcome back foreign tourists.
It has been nearly two years since Cebu had foreign arrivals. Lockdowns brought by the COVID-19 pandemic virtually stopped international travel and crippled the tourism industry on the island.
“Because lahi man gud ang Cebu sa uban, we have an international airport here and sa kadaghanan sa atong LGUs (local government units), tourism man gyud based ang economy. And dependent on the foreign market o ang atong foreign tourists. So ingon ko nga if dili ni nato himoong desisyon mao ra gihapon nga magpili pili,” Garcia added.
The governor is also expected to release a new memorandum that will serve as the overall guidelines in accepting foreign travelers.
In 2019, Cebu attracted around 1.7 million foreign tourists, making it the most visited place that year, besting other equally famous destinations such as Siargao Island and Boracay.
The island hosts popular tourism activities such as canyoneering, diving, and whale-shark watching. It is also where Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA) is located, the second-busiest airport in the Philippines. / rcg
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