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By: Vanessa Almeda, Eleanor Valeros | Published Wednesday, July 15, 2020
Gov. Gwen Garcia consults tourism stakeholders in Moalboal town, southern Cebu on Wednesday, July 15 with national and local government officials in preparation for the reopening of Cebu Province’s tourism industry. (Junjie Mendoza)

The Cebu Provincial Government will be implementing a two-pronged strategy in protecting its constituents against the threat of the 2019 Coronavirus Disease (Covid-19) as it prepares to open its doors to tourism activities.

While on her second leg of consultation with tourism stakeholders in southern Cebu on Wednesday, July 15, Governor Gwendolyn Garcia told resort owners and operators that the tourism reopening will be done with science and technology alongside health regimen to boost people’s immune system.

Under the MGCQ status, leisure activities are allowed like swimming and other activities. However, Garcia emphasized that tourism in Cebu "is not a leisure activity but livelihood."

"Panginabuhi ni sa libo ka-liboan ka mga Sugbuanon nga nawad-an og panginabuhian tungod aning Covid," the governor said.   

Since April, several meetings have been held to prepare for the opening of Cebu's tourism.

As a result, Garcia will be signing EO 20-A outlining the protocols for the popular tourism activities in the province like whaleshark watching, snorkeling, trekking, spelunking or caving, diving, and island-hopping, among others.

Among the protocols set is for all resorts and other accomodation establishments to sanitize/sterilise their facilities using the ultraviolet germicidal light which is scientifically recognized to kill viruses, bacteria and dust mite. 

As the Province takes on rebranding as a "health and wellness destination," all guests must also be given healthy welcome drinks such as calamansi juice and ginger-turmeric tea, and other health regimen to boost the immune system.

"We are putting together the old traditional methods but we are also doing science and technology methods sama sa UV sterilisation lamp and air purification system ," Garcia said.

Aside from the facilities, safety gears and equipment are also required to be sterilized after every use.

These are then stored in sterilized sealed containers which will be labeled or tagged for easy identification. 
Frontline staff like receptionists, waiters, busboys, briefers and servers are required to wear face masks and face shields.

They shall be regularly checked prior to their workshift through temperature checking and other applicable health checks. 

Those exhibiting influenza-like symptoms shall be referred to the city or municipal health officers for proper handling and management.  

Vehicles transporting guests to and from the destination sites must not be air-conditioned but if this is not possible, an air purification system should be installed in the vehicle. 

Accomodation establishments shall strictly follow the 50-percent capacity and health protocols on social distancing, sanitation and handwashing. 

"As much as possible dine-in will have to be open pero if this is not possible, magbutang og air purification system. Kana aron pag ensure nga ang hangin, kay airborne naman kaha ning virus, (mapatay) gamiton ta ni (air purification)," Garcia said. 

The governor emphasized that even with the many changes in the impression on Covid-19 from spread of contagion through droplets to it being airborne as per latest information from health organizations, the fact remains that many have lost their sources of livelihood because of the pandemic.

"Daghan na og nausab sa impression aning Covid. Apan ang wa mausab — nga daghan ang naglisud. Daghan og nawad-an og panginabuhi," she said.

Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) 7 Assistant Secretary Aster Caberte said that the stakeholders’ meeting is geared towards moving forward from the four months of community quarantine, and assist local stakeholders in dealing with the pandemic’s impact. 

"The more urgent agenda here is tabangan ang mga negosyante to stay above water," she added.

Department of Tourism (DOT) 7 Director Shahlimar Tamano also reminded the boat operators that they have to be accredited with DOT-Marina (Maritime Industry Authority) which is available free of charge.

Further, the Capitol will make available a decompression chamber to Moalboal town where diving is already an important economic driver in the last forty years.

The local government unit of Moalboal will provide the lot for the chamber.

"We cannot afford to stop until we reach the finish line," Moalboal Mayor Paz "Lingling" Rozgoni said, adding that the town prepared for the resuscitation of tourism having actively attended the series of meetings at the Capitol since May.

Basdiot Business Tourism Association with the island hopping operators attended the stakeholders meeting.

Also present were Cebu 7th District Provincial Board Members Christopher "Dong" Baricuatro and Jerome Librando, Samboan Mayor Raymond Calderon, Barili Mayor Marlon Garcia, and Provincial Tourism Officer Maria Lester "Marti" Ybañez. (Vanessa Almeda, Eleanor Valeros)