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HOTEL INDUSTRY, DOT SHOULD WORK TO MAKE HOTELS IN THE PHILIPPINES ‘OUTBREAK-PROOF’ — ARAGONES

With the government planning on ways to safely open the country as it deals with the COVID-19 outbreak, House Tourism Committee Chair Rep. Sol Aragones on Tuesday urged the Department of Tourism (DOT) and leaders of the country’s hotel industry to come up with new standards and protocols that will allow them to resume operations while preventing the spread of highly contagious diseases like the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

“We have to learn the painful lessons of this pandemic and recognize that the old practices and previous standards applied in our hotel industry will no longer be sufficient to prevent outbreaks like COVID-19; our priority now should be to come up with ways to make our hotels as outbreak-proof as possible,” said Aragones.

“Our hotel industry should adapt to the new normal.”

The lawmaker from Laguna pointed out that numerous protocols need to be reviewed by the DOT and hotel industry representatives together with the Department of Health to determine how to best prevent outbreaks like COVID-19.

“They must review everything a hotel guest must go through, from check-in to check-out, to identify and address potential vulnerabilities and opportunities for virus transmission,” said the solon.

“Our hotel industry should adapt to the new normal.”

Aragones offered several examples, such as: (1) putting in place systems that would allow for contact-less check-in, wherein guests can simply get their keycards and proceed straight to their rooms; (2) doing away with breakfast buffets that require guests to use the same serving spoons to get food and replacing these with bento boxes; (3) and expanding hotel kitchens and instituting better spacing of tables in restaurants to allow for proper social distancing.

“When guests becomes sick, there must be PPEs (personal protective equipment) on hand and hotel staff must be trained to immediately respond so they can properly isolate the guests until health authorities can be called in to assess the situation and determine the next course of action,” explained the legislator.

“Sa mga bagong standards na ito, ang PPEs, rapid testing kits, at face mask ay magiging kasing essential na ng fire extinguisher sa ating mga hotel.”

Aragones said that hotels in the country should be able to tap into stimulus funds that have been set aside for the local tourism industry to help them implement the necessary precautions and adjust to this “new reality.”

“When guests becomes sick, there must be PPEs on hand.”

The third-termer solon stressed that the DOT should design “model hotels” with the new protocols in place, as well as come up with information materials for both the hotel industry and tourists in order for everyone to be familiar with the standards of an “outbreak-proof” establishment.

“We have to really study all of these properly and accept that these will be challenging times for the Philippine tourism industry. Pero kaya natin at kakayanin natin ito.”

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