Bohol governor proposes bubble-to-bubble leisure travel with other countries

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Bohol Governor Arthur Yap (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 24) — Bohol Governor Arthur Yap is proposing a bubble-to-bubble travel arrangement with other countries to help boost the local economy.

Yap urged the national government to consider special bilateral agreements with other countries that would allow foreign travelers to visit a province for a limited period.

"Dapat i-support na 'yun [That should be supported], because that is a way to allow now different parts of the country to use tourism as a low-hanging fruit to bring in revenue," Yap said during the Kapihan sa Manila Bay forum on Wednesday.

Yap's proposal includes eased consular requirements like visa upon arrival option.

He said Bohol being an island-province, is already a confined space. It also has a new international airport that may accommodate up to two million passengers per year.

''That's an advantage of a place like Bohol. It is compact, it is one island in itself, it's 4,000 square kilometers with one international airport and five ports. So bantayan mo lang ang pumapasok at lumalabas doon [So just keep an eye on everyone who comes and goes]," Yap said.

Before the pandemic, Yap said Bohol had around 30,000 visitors per day. But in the latest data, they had less than 4,000 visitors from December last year to date.

Initially, the governor considered offering special diving packages for divers from Japan, Korea, Taipei, and China.

But with the resurgence of COVID-19 cases in the country, Yap recognized the possible fear of other countries from entering into this agreement.

"But Bohol is not the Philippines, Bohol is not the NCR," Yap said, noting that the province currently has 234 active COVID-19 cases, 27 deaths, and more than a thousand recoveries.

"So parang maybe, mamili na lang sila, yung DOT and DFA, then contact their counterparts, contact their national agency counterparts for example in Japan, in Taipei, Korea, China, and set up na bilateral, special na lang hindi buong bansa," he added.

[Translation: So, maybe they can choose, the DOT and the DFA, then contact their counterparts, contact their national agency counterparts for example in Japan, in Taipei, Korea, China, and a bilateral set ups, a special one that does not involve the whole country.]

Other means to churn the economy

Yap, who was an Agriculture and Presidential Management Staff secretary during the term of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, is also proposing other economic recovery plans to the national government.

These include leveraging of funds by national and local governments, improving connectivity, and continuously sending out Filipino workers abroad.

"Tingnan mo ang solution sa COVID is always stay at home, stay at home, isolate. If the cure is really to isolate, stay at home, talagang may tatamaan sa economy natin. As you can see right now, eto na nga yun, walang negosyo, walang trabaho, walang taxes,"said the governor.

[Translation: The solution they have for COVID is to stay at home and to isolate. If the cure is really to isolate and stay at home, our economy will really get hit. As you can see, this is what's happening, no business, no work, no taxes.]

"Sana mas maging open ang mind ng mga officials natin [I hope our officials will have a more open mind] and financing officials natin that together, all our funds we are using up, if we can channel it and spend it as one big bank, malaki talagang tulong [it will be a big help]."

But most importantly, Yap stressed the need for the public to continuously practice the minimum health standards to prevent the spread of the virus.

Yap has already requested the national government for vaccines good for 100,000 people.