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The Department of Tourism (DOT) remains optimistic that the Philippines will regain the tourists’ trust in the country as a safe and viable tourism destination sooner, and hasten recovery of the country’s tourism industry.

At the 17th webinar of the DOT titled, “Infection Prevention: Cleaning, Disinfection and Hygiene in Tourism & Hospitality Facilities in the ‘New Normal,'” Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat made the statement and said that ensuring the strict protocol of operational guidelines and regulations will help regain tourists’ confidence.

“We must ensure that operational guidelines and regulations are strictly followed. Ang turista kasi ngayon, kapag pupunta sila sa isang lugar, ang una nilang tinitignan ay hindi kung masarap ang pagkain o kung maganda yung lugar. Number one yung safety. ‘Safe ba ako sa lugar na iyon?’ At itong mga Online Learning Series (OLS), talagang we will make sure na naka-engrain iyon sa utak natin para pagdating ng mga turista natin sa atin, alam nilang safe tayo,” Secretary Puyat said.

Puyat also expressed that with the eventual transitioning from Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ) to General Community Quarantine (GCQ), the public’s health and safety will still remain top priority.

“We are also looking forward to the lifting of the quarantine measures and instead, putting in place strict protocols to keep everyone safe and in good health. It was a challenging time for everyone and I’m sure we’re all eager to know what life would be in the new normal,” Puyat remarked.

Tourism Undersecretary Arturo Boncato Jr. added that “The DOT has released the latest memorandum circular on ‘Health and Safety Guidelines for Accommodation Establishments’ last May 22, and I think our session today is very timely because we are talking about sanitation, and this sanitation is a major indicator in the new set of standards that we have rolled out.&qout;

The memorandum circular identifies the following areas where public health standards shall govern: 1) Guest Handling Policy; 2) Reception and Concierge; 3) Room and Housekeeping; 4) Food and Beverage (F&B) Service; 5) Kitchen Sanitation and Disinfection; 6) Public Areas; 7) Hotel Transport Service; 8) Engineering and Maintenance Services; 9) Business Practices and Management; 10) Suppliers of Goods and Services, and 11) Management of Symptomatic Guests.

The full text of said guidelines can be read here (https://tinyurl.com/y8w2cqxg).

Undersecretary Boncato, who worked as a hotelier for almost a decade before joining the DOT, has worked hand in hand with Ecolab for sanitation solutions.

Anthony Herrera, the Lead Chemist of Ecolab’s Institutional Division in Southeast Asia, is one of the invited resource speakers who gave a discussion on the best practices in resuming operations and heightened cleaning and sanitizing procedures in areas of tourist attractions and accommodation facilities.

Herrera supported the DOT’s health and safety guidelines with scientific infection prevention practices through an overview of the science and facts of disinfection, product differentiation, antimicrobial technologies, WHO COVID-19 management, and frequency of cleaning and disinfection.

“We need to make sure that you are using the right product, the right chemical for your target application. The new normal is all about cleaning and disinfection so you need to know the definition. Make sure you check their labels and claims,” he said.

Herrera also discussed the available antimicrobial technologies in the market that need special instructions when used such as chlorine, quaternary ammonium or quats, hydrogen peroxide, and ultraviolet light.

“If you see World Health Organization (WHO) or the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), even our local Department of Health (DOH), you can see in their guidelines that chlorine is actually being recommended because chlorine is very effective in killing bacteria and viruses, and is commercially available,” Herrera added.

Ronel Magallanes, the District Manager of Ecolab’s Institutional Philippines, highlighted disinfecting high touch points areas such as dining area or front of house, guest rooms, restrooms, kitchen or back of house, as well as in tourist attraction venues and vehicles.

Magallanes added the importance of heightening of our cleaning and disinfecting procedures. “This will keep your operations safe to reduce the virus spread. The virus can be spread through droplets on high touch points.”

This webinar and previous editions have been recorded and can be accessed through the DOT Official Facebook Page (https://tinyurl.com/y9jeedbg).

Published:March 9, 2021

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