Tourism dept. eyes forming 'bubble' to restart leisure travel

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 10) — People may be allowed to travel freely between an area in the Philippines with a low number of COVID-19 cases and another country, which has the same status, the Department of Tourism said Wednesday.

“Since we have 7,641 islands, we can look at particular islands that have zero COVID-19 case or minimal number of COVID-19 cases. You can match it with a country,”

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat told a Kapihan sa Manila Bay forum.

The idea is that tourists within the so-called travel bubble would not undergo the 14-day quarantine at their destination. New Zealand and Australia have been in discussions to establish this plan, CNN International has reported.

Romulo-Puyat cited the case of Bohol, which has recorded only four confirmed COVID-19 cases since the outbreak began in January.

She said local Tourism officials discussed with their Australian counterparts last week how visitors from Down Under could travel to certain areas in the country that may be opened for tourism.

“We were telling them there is an option of flying from Australia directly to Bohol or Kalibo,” she said.

The Tourism chief said an area will only be opened to foreign tourists once health protocols are in place.

Romulo-Puyat noted the importance of opening up accredited coronavirus testing centers and preparing health facilities in areas with travel bubbles in case of an outbreak.

The Tourism department also is "looking at" reopening Boracay Island to domestic tourists, Romulo-Puyat said. She added they will visit the island on Thursday to check the readiness of its healthcare system to cope with the viral illness.