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By: Eleanor Valeros | Published Thursday, July 9, 2020
Cebu Province gears towards reopening its tourist destinations now that it is placed under Modified General Community Quarantine. FILE PHOTO

It’s good news for those who look forward to go canyoneering, whale-watching, swimming at the sea, and other tour activities in the Province of Cebu.

Under Modified General Community Quarantine (MGCQ), tourism-related activities in the Province will be encouraged to resuscitate the economic opportunities lost to the Covid-19 pandemic.

In the Executive Order 20-A set to be signed by Governor Gwendolyn Garcia next week, the public will now be able to engage in whale-watching, canyoneering, snorkeling, diving, parasailing, and island-hopping activities provided they are fit for the said activities. They must also observe strict health protocols such as physical distancing, frequent sanitizing through handwashing, and the use of foot baths. 

Tour activities will operate on a 50-percent capacity to ensure physical distancing.

The local government units (LGUs) are responsible in implementing specific health protocols for each of the said activities.

Garcia, in her virtual presser today, July 9, said that cross-border swimming is now permitted. This means that residents may now gain entry into neighboring towns with access to beaches.

“Under GCQ wala na nato gi-allow nang swimming from one town to another. Anha ra gyud ka maligo sa dagat nga duol sa inyoha. Duna pa gyud ta’y oras nga from 6 am to noontime as part of the health regimen. Apan karon gi-allow na nato, under MGCQ, kay in effect i-open na nato ang tourism in towns that depend mainly on tourism as their means of livelihood,” the governor explained.

“Mahimo na nga maligo hangtod sa hapon labi na nga sa atong southwestern towns kadaghanan sa mga turista maghulat sa sunset kay nag-offer na dinha og beautiful sunset views,” she added.

A meeting is set with the Departments of Tourism, Health, and Trade and Industry to finalize EO 20-A. 

“It is expected that I’ll be signing Executive Order 20-A by Tuesday or Wednesday which will define the guidelines for tourism-related activities,” Garcia said.

Earlier, the said line agencies supported the advocacy of the Cebu Provincial Government in packaging Cebu Province as a “health and wellness destination” in the country by encouraging resorts to offer steam inhalation or “tuob” kits in each room which will consist of a basin, a kettle, and a towel. 

Welcome drinks made from salabat (ginger tea), calamansi, and duwaw (turmeric) with honey will also be offered to guests.

In a previous meeting with chief executives and tourism officers of LGUs managing Cebu’s tourist spots, it was discussed that equipment commonly used in tour activities such as life vests and other protective gears be disinfected through ultraviolet (UV) sterilization device after every use. Foot baths will be in place and each room will accommodate one person only.

Other suggestions include non-mixing of families with other guests, most especially onboard boats in the whale-watching activity. 

Tour operators will also be directed to tap only those motorbanca operators who are credible in implementing the mandatory safety or public health standards.

Governor Garcia is keen on these steps toward tourism recovery, saying that saving lives is as vital as saving livelihood. (Eleanor Valeros)