Bubbles"The bubble concept is indeed workable, but will remain a bubble for as long as the country’s health management is deemed unacceptable."

Australia and New Zealand will be exchanging flights to and from their countries in order to re-charge their tourism sector. The concept is to create a travel “bubble” for two countries which did well, and in the case of NZ, exceedingly well, in managing the ill effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

Taiwan for its part will begin welcoming citizens coming in for mainly business purposes, as well as students enrolled in their universities. The countries in the first tier, which are considered “low-risk” because they managed their COVID-19 responses pretty well are: Vietnam, Hong Kong, Macau, Thailand, Australia, New Zealand, Brunei, Fiji, Mongolia and Bhutan.
Citizens from these countries coming to Taiwan will only be required four-day self-quarantine after health checks at the airport. In time, even these would be ruled out as the pandemic remains controlled in the island.

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Our tourism secretary announced last week the possibility of creating a similar travel bubble between some island destinations in the Philippines, such as Bohol, Boracay and possibly some parts of Palawan. The incidence of COVID contagion in these islands have been few and far between. Bohol has a new Panglao International Airport and so does Boracay, both from Caticlan and Kalibo, capable of accepting charter flights.

The bubble concept is indeed workable, but will remain a bubble for as long as the country’s health management is deemed unacceptable, not only by governments elsewhere in the world, but by their citizens as well who keep tab of the numbers that keep rising.

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In Taiwan however, domestic tourism has considerably perked up. And I have seen more and more people, especially the young, do away with the ubiquitous utilization of face masks wherever they go.

Last Thursday, the beginning of the four-day Dragon Boat holiday in celebration of the change of seasons from spring to summer, I went to Ruifang in New Taipei City, where we went up to a relatively low but steep 100 meter climb, through some 5 kilometers to reach a peak from whence one gets a majestic view of the Pacific Ocean.

Domestic tourism seems to have been re-energized. Even the remote Green Island in Taitung received thousands of visitors that kept dozens of ferries busy the whole long week-end.

Ruifang in New Taipei City is just less than a leisurely 40-minute drive from downtown Taipei City, where one could climb its low but very well-maintained mountains, and swim and snorkel in the clear waters of the currently calm sea. And later gorge on excellent locally-produced seafood, such as lobsters, crabs, abalone and groupers. At very affordable prices, I might add.

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The key to the workability of the travel bubbles, as well as enhancing domestic tourism is safety and security, especially peace of mind on questions of health. So Sec. Berna’s hopes are really a function of how long it will take the country to reverse the current trends of health mismanagement.

One is relieved to know that Sec. Cimatu has been charged to take over the pandemic management in Cebu City as earlier requested by the Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas from the President, who is himself considered a Cebuano, his father having been a Mindanao migrant from Danao.

Now it has been discovered that regional health officials based in Cebu City were “managing” reports on the number of Covid infections in their public hospitals, creating an earlier atmosphere of false complacency.

Now the “bubble” has burst, and Cimatu comes to the rescue. Still, the toxic nature of Cebu politics has reared its ugly head once more, indulging in fake news and recriminatory accusations against both local and national government officials. Even Sec. Cimatu, an Ilocano with frugal habits, has been falsely accused of having taken 40 rooms at the Seda Hotel in Lahug, when all he brought with him was an assistant.

Slay the toxicity, Cebuanos, and just follow the quarantine rules strictly.

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Here in Taiwan, a returning Japanese student who was asymptomatic but upon testing was found to be positive for the virus last June 22 raised quite a furor. But within the next three days, government traced 123 persons with whom the student interacted upon his arrival, from airport to eateries. Fortunately, all 123 tested negative, thanks to face masks and other precautionary measures ingrained as habit in the population. By June 26, all fears were laid to rest.

Just one case added to 446, since the virus spread out in January in this supposedly “lucky” Year of the Rat.

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And as we write this article on a hot Sunday morning here in Taipei, we read about the departure to a “safer” beyond of three persons, to whose families we would like to extend our profound condolences.

To Sen. Bong and Mayor Lani, on the demise of their father, Ramon Sr., after a long and lingering illness;

To Ma’am Nancy and the children and grandchildren of our good Cebuano friend Congressman Tony Cuenco, who was once Presidential Assistant on Political Affairs, and thus a predecessor in office;

And finally, to my immediate predecessor as Chairman of the Manila Economic and Cultural Office, Congressman Amadito Perez Jr. of Urdaneta City in Pangasinan.

Their departure from earthly life, days after Ambassador Danding, sends intimations of mortality upon us all.

Topics: Australi , New Zealand , tourism sector , Ramon Revilla Sr.
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