DOT holds informal talks with select countries for bilateral air arrangements for Bohol

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 31) — The Department of Tourism (DOT) said it has been holding informal talks with countries with low COVID-19 cases to come up with bilateral air arrangements for the reopening of Bohol tourism.

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said on Friday that the DOT together with the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) have reached out to countries like South Korea, Japan, and Australia.

“We’ve been having informal talks together with the DFA… but of course everything is fluid but then we’ve already been talking na once travel restrictions have been lifted, we can already talk about direct flights,” she said.

Bohol Governor Arthur Yap also said there are plans to look for a foreign or domestic counterpart to establish a bilateral travel arrangement, either by air or sea.

The local government of Bohol has been gearing up for the resumption of tourism activities on the island-province. Moving target is set on the fourth quarter of 2020.

In May, the Task Force on COVID-19 said it is eyeing to reopen tourism in Bohol amid the pandemic to set it as a “model” for the industry’s new normal. Yap said he wants to study further the reopening, which will largely depend on their testing and healthcare capabilities.

Meanwhile, Yap said the local government accreditation for businesses is not a burden since this will only ensure sustainability and protection of environment.

Aside from the DOT accreditation, businesses in Bohol are still required to have the “Ultimate Bohol Experience” accreditation for them to operate. Some said this may add to the burden already faced by establishments when they were forced to shut down due to quarantine restrictions.

“We don’t see it also as a double burden because we have a unique situation in Bohol," Yap said. "We have certain conditions that we want to be fulfilled because we want to make our tourism extra sustainable.”