More police personnel will be stationed in Cebu’s tourism sites to ensure that proper health and safety protocols are properly enforced and followed by both locals and tourists.
This is after a now-deleted post in social media went viral on Sunday, October 25 allegedly showing tourists not following health and social distancing protocols in Bantayan Island.
Governor Gwendolyn Garcia and the Cebu Provincial Police Office agreed to a tourism police augmentation to the tourism sites instead of creating force multipliers contrary to a report that came out in a local newspaper.
“What we really need is an augmentation of our tourism police because they are already there,” Garcia said, contrary to news reports saying force multipliers are needed to watch against tourism violators.
“And besides the DOT (Department of Tourism) had been closely working with the tourism police and we can continue to have further training for those who are already augmented, that’s the definition of their job. They are tourist police and the tourist police are duly recognized in our EO,” she further said.
Based on the Information Garcia gathered from the office of Sta. Fe Mayor Ithamar Espinosa and the Provincial Tourism Office, it was confirmed that there were no tourist bookings yet from outside the island during the weekend in question.
“Well, we checked. Wala’y booking pa, wa pa’y mga turista. So di ni sila matawag nga mga turista, matawag hinuon nato ni sila og locals kay MGCQ man ta,” she said.
She emphasized that rigorous protocols are being required before any tourism establishment is allowed to open and welcome tourists. Shipping companies and port of calls are required to ask travelers to present bookings from the Cebu Tourism Portal and a two-way boat ticket before they can enter the islands.
The governor clarified that locals are already allowed to go to the beach and take a swim as the Province is now in Modified General Community Quarantiine (MGCQ), its most relaxed quarantine restriction.
She also presumed that since the people referred to in the social media post were going to the beach, then they are not wearing their masks.
“Kun ikaw diay gusto ka moadto sa dagat kinahanglan pa diay pasul-obon gihapon nimo og masks?” Garcia opined.
Once against this when the enhanced community quarantine was in place, Garcia now encouraged the public to go sea swimming after learning the beneficial effects of seawater and sea air in treating Covid-19 symptoms from a study of the University of Edinburgh.
“It’s very good. In fact, as I said, only fools do not change their minds. Karon I do not wish for you nga mahimo mong sirena or kugita. By all means kaligo mo sa dagat. It is very, very beneficial to you. Read. And I’m urging all others basa mo bahin sa beneficial benefits of salt and sea water and sea air. Way back, bisan kaniadto naa moy ubo, hubak, tuberculosis, go to the sea. Adto sa dagat. Adto sa Moalboal aron kakita ka sa sardine run or pwedi sad moadto ka, motan-aw ka sa mga butanding,” she said.
The study, published in 2019, was designed to identify a low cost and easily accessible intervention against the common cold.
Also known as Elvis Covid-19 study, researchers said that sea salt may work by boosting the cells’ antiviral defense that kicks in when they are affected by a cold.
Garcia also urged the public to bring issues raised against people not using face mask while on the beach to local authorities and not on social media as this hugely affects the Province’s tourism industry which is on its way to recovery.
“Leave that to the office of the Mayor, leave that to our law enforcement agencies,” she said, adding that she was alarmed by the social media post as it could greatly affect the Province’s efforts to help Bantayanons and Cebuanos in general.
“I am doing this for our brother and sister Cebuanos in Bantayan. Pag-adto nako nahibawo ko nga daghan kaayo ninyo ang nabuksan ang paglaum niining atong pagbukas usab sa turismo pagbalik sa Bantayan. Kamo makabalik namo’g panarbaho. Kamo nanag-iya aning mga resorts makasugod na og bangon balik sa inyong pagkalukapa. Ang ekonomiya sa Bantayan makasugod na sad og paghatag og benepisyo kaninyo,” she said.
“Apan usa lang ka report sama niini, born out of a false claim in social media, usa lang, daghan ang makuryentehan. Ug makadaot ni sa atong efforts to revive tourism,” she said. (Vanessa L. Almeda)