We still win as one: PH named world’s leading dive destination

Aileen Cerrudo   •   December 2, 2019   •   1428

📷Mr. Jerome Kim

The Philippines was recognized as the 2019 World’s Leading Dive destination in the recent World Travel Awards (WTA).

The Department of Tourism has announced that the Philippines bested eight other global dive destinations also nominated under the same category which includes Azores Islands, Bora Bora in French Polynesia, Cayman Islands, Fiji, Galapagos Islands, Great Barrier Reef in Australia, Maldives, and Mexico.

Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said this recognition is a validation that the Philippines is truly a premier dive destination.

“Dubbed by marine experts and scientists as the heart of marine biodiversity in the world, our country is home to the highest concentration of coral reef life and astounding variety of marine species,” he said in a statement.—AAC

DOT suspends, fines hotel in ‘Poblacion Girl’ fiasco

Maris Federez   •   January 5, 2022

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Tourism (DOT) has suspended the accreditation of a Makati hotel and revoked its permit as a multiple-use hotel amid the “Poblacion Girl” debacle.

In a statement, the DOT said the Berjaya Hotel Makati is suspended “for its failure to stop a guest from breaking quarantine rules, leaving the premises to party, and only to return a few days later to test positive for Covid-19” which resulted in her having infected at least 12 others.

The DOT said that it also fined Berjaya Hotel Makati an equivalent to twice the rack rate of its most expensive room.

The Department’s Tourism Regulation, Coordination, and Resource Generation approved the penalties recommended by the DOT- National Capital Region, the statement said.

Berjaya Hotel has 15 working days to appeal the DOT decision.

Copy of the department’s decision has also been given to the Department of Health (DOH), Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ),  One-Stop-Shop-Management of Returning Overseas Filipino of the Department of Transportation -Office of Transportation Security (DOTr- OTS), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), and Makati local government unit (LGU).

The DOT said that while Berjaya Hotel assured the department that their guests follow strict protocols, it later apologized in news reports and social media for its failure to report the “quarantine skipping incident” to the BOQ.

The statements made by the hotel management and its public apology were “an admission of not just the facts of the incident but as well as their lapses in their responsibility as an accredited establishment of the Department of Tourism,” the decision said.

This case stemmed from the actions of returning Filipino Gwyneth Chua, identified in social media as “Poblacion Girl” because she was seen in Poblacion, Makati City when she was supposed to be in the quarantine hotel.

Chua arrived in the country on December 22 and checked in at Berjaya Hotel at around 11:30 pm. A CCTV footage showed her leaving the hotel at 11:45 pm and was later on seen on social media partying in a bar in Poblacion. —/mbmf

PNP to conduct random inspections in quarantine hotels

Maris Federez   •   January 4, 2022

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has ordered the Philippine National Police (PNP) to conduct random visits in quarantine hotels.

According to DILG spokesperson Usec. Jonathan Malaya said Interior Secretary Eduardo Año ordered the PNP to conduct random checks in quarantine hotels because the Department of Tourism (DOT) and the Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ) lack the manpower to guard the 150 accredited quarantine hotels in the country including the 6 to 8 facilities in Metro Manila.

“Siya po ay nagbigay din po ng direktiba na bisitahin o magkaroon ng random visit sa iba’t ibang quarantine hotels sa buong bansa ang PNP.

During random inspections, the police will ask for the list of those who should be at a quarantine hotel through the BOQ.

If that person is not there, he or she will be immediately investigated and cases will be filed against that person, and also those who are involved in the quarantine breach.

Meanwhile, several contacts of the COVID-19 positive returning overseas Filipino who skipped quarantine after returning home from the United States of America have also been infected with coronavirus disease, Malaya said.

However, it is still unknown what coronavirus variant hit the quarantine violator.

Also, based on the initial investigation of the PNP-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), the hotel wherein the balikbayan was supposed to quarantine is responsible for the quarantine breach.

“Duon po sa kaniyang close contacts na 15, 7 na po ang nagpositibo sa COVID-19. While dun naman po sa 19 secondary contacts niya, ay isa na po ang nagpositibo,” Malaya said.

“So talaga pong naging superspreader event yung paglabas pasok nitong Poblacion Girl sa kaniyang quarantine hotel,” he added. —/mbmf (from the report of UNTV Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

DOT welcomes shortened quarantine days for returning Filipinos

Robie de Guzman   •   November 19, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Tourism (DOT) on Friday welcomed the decision of the government’s task force for COVID-19 response to shorten the hotel quarantine period from five days to three days for fully vaccinated overseas Filipinos returning from yellow listed countries.

Malacañang announced earlier in the day that the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) fully vaccinated travelers from countries under the yellow list are required to present a negative RT-PCR test taken within 72 hours prior to departure from the country of origin.

Upon arrival, they shall undergo a three-day facility-based quarantine with testing on the third day but are enjoined to complete self-monitoring up to the 14th day from arrival.

“This latest development will greatly contribute to the on-going recovery of the tourism sector this holiday season while also providing more time to those who want to return home to be with their loved ones in the Philippines,” Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said in a statement.

The policy, however, states that those without pre-departure testing will be subjected to a facility-based quarantine until the release of the RT-PCR test results taken on the fifth day. With a negative result, the individual will be released for home quarantine until the 10th day.

Unvaccinated travelers shall undergo facility-based quarantine with testing on the seventh day, to be followed by home quarantine up to 14th day upon the release of a negative test result.

The new policy will take effect starting November 22.

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