DOT issues guidelines pushing for more openness for tourism enterprises

As part of its measures to support the national government’s liberalization of the COVID-19 restrictions in the country, the Department of Tourism (DOT) on Sunday (Mar. 5) has released a Memorandum Circular further easing health and safety guidelines governing the operations of tourism establishments, pushing for the further opening of the country to tourists and travelers.
Based on the DOT Memorandum Circular (MC) 2023-0002, the presentation of proof of full vaccination as well as the wearing of face masks in tourism enterprises will no longer be required.
The DOT MC 2023-0002, Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco said, is a follow-through of the efforts of the Department, which began last year to assist the economic hardships of tourism stakeholders by issuing regulations pushing for the opening up of the country to tourism. The Tourism Department had made similar issuances last year through its Office of Tourism Standards and Regulation (OTSR) and regional offices, immediately following the President’s signing of Executive Order No. 7, which mandated the voluntary mask wearing in indoor and outdoor settings.
To recall, the DOT, through the Office of Tourism Standards and Regulations (OTSR), issued Memorandum 2022-509 last November 22, 2022, to the DOT Regional Offices reiterating the voluntary wearing of face masks and the waning requirement on the presentation of proof of full vaccination in tourism enterprises. Meanwhile, last month, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Safety Seal Secretariat announced the discontinuance of the Safety Seal Certification Program.
“This latest issuance on the relaxed health and safety guidelines for tourism establishments reinforces the Department of Tourism’s commitment towards addressing the economic hardships of the tourism industry brought about by the lockdowns and restrictions of the pandemic. It sends the important message across that, under the Marcos Administration, our country is open for tourism, and that we are keeping up with global practices on tourism operations that have already opened up worldwide,” Secretary Frasco said.
Through DOT MC 2023-0002, the DOT ordered the lifting of the previous administration’s earlier requirement for tourism establishments to install plastic, acrylic barriers and dividers in designated areas, and likewise ordered for the removal of signages, visual cues, and other installations on mandatory protocols, which have since been liberalized by the national government.
In adherence to the country’s policy shifts on minimum public health standards, the DOT also announced that it shall no longer issue the PH Safety Seal and WTTC Safe Travels Stamp (STS) to tourism enterprises found compliant to guidelines set in accordance with Joint Memorandum Circular No. 21-01 issued by the DOT and other national government agencies on the Safety Seal Certification Program, and Memorandum Circular 2022-003, respectively.
Further, in submitting monthly reports to the DOT’s Regional Offices, accommodation establishments (AE) will no longer need to include the number, nature of work, and length of stay of permitted guests, as well as names of companies or businesses with employees that are booked with the establishment, which are details that the Department previously required from accredited AEs through DOT Administrative Order 2022-001.

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