MINERVA BC NEWMAN
TAGBILARAN CITY – The local government of Bohol has rolled out its ‘Green Zone’ vaccination strategy to have a good percentage of the population of Panglao island, including Dauis town get vaccine shots to attain herd immunity on the entire prime tourism destination island.
According to Bohol governor Arthur Yap, the strategy likewise called the green lane, also includes the vaccination of tourism frontline workers in accredited establishments and sites outside Panglao island. Protocol-wise, he added that the DOT has a new normal accreditation system aside from the province’s very own requirement for tourism establishments to secure an ‘excellence proof’ through the Ultimate Bohol Experience (UBE) Seal.
Bohol Provincial Tourism Council (PTC) chair Atty. Lucas Nunag, Jr. shared that the ‘Green Zone’ concept was proposed by the governor during a virtual tourism forum in May for Panglao island to trailblaze and provide a template for the gradual reopening of the country to international tourism like what has been planned for Bali in Indonesia and Phuket in Thailand.
The forum was attended by top DOT and IATF officials, airline executives, and Presidential Adviser Joey Concepcion who agreed with Yap on a “bakuna card” as a safe pass for fully-immunized locals and visitors who may no longer be required to undergo RT-PCR test to travel.
With the green zone system achieved here, Nunag said that Panglao and Bohol can safely welcome vaccinated guests from key source countries that can start the momentum for the Asian regional tourism bubble.
“We realized that getting the relevant authorities to approve and implement this bold concept will not be easy considering the varied challenges that the pandemic presents, including vaccine supply, priority issues and sensitive considerations,” Nunag stated.
He added that the private sector of the tourism industry is enthusiastic about the setting up of Panglao island as a green zone and he is optimistic that the green zone has reasonable chances of achieving a significant win, a success story that will inspire and provide some hope for our battered and depressed tourism industry.
Yap said Bohol received the first vaccine package for tourism workers containing 5,000 doses of Russian-made Gamaleya or Sputnik V and 5,000 doses of Chinese Sinovac at the Bohol Panglao International Airport on June 16 in time for the roll out at the Bellevue Resort in Panglao immediately on June 18.
There are 7,000 frontline workers of accredited tourism operators that will be vaccinated, although there can be more as the green zone keeps rolling out. This is a step towards gaining confidence for the visitors to come, Yap said in a press conference during the initial vaccine arrival at the airport.
According to Bohol Inter-Agency Task Force (BIATF) spokesperson Engr. Albert Uy that initial 2,000 doses of vaccines are coming from the national Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry for other essential workers in Bohol.
Vaccination of senior citizens and persons ages 18-59 with comorbidity is also ongoing and Tagbilaran City also got additional 5,000 doses of vaccine from the supply received by the Province, Provincial Health Office (PHO) OIC Dr. Cesar Tomas Lopez said.
Yap has encouraged tighter public and private sectors’ cooperation as he thanked Department of Tourism (DOT) Sec. Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, vaccine czar Sec. Carlito Galvez, Jr. and Sec. Vince Dizon of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) and Sen. Bong Go for allowing Bohol to be the first in the country to vaccinate its tourism frontline workers.