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Travel – Under new norm conditions

Traveling is both valuable and exciting. Don’t confuse traveling with what you see on Instagram and Facebook. Lush jungles, an “au naturel” pathway leading to the crystal-clear waters of a white sandy beach. Or perhaps the iconic “come hither” cliché of a photo of your significant other dragging you towards what appears to be the intricate details of the Duomo in the background.

I believe that traveling is what you – as the traveler, define it to be. If you’re a thrill-seeking back packer happy to live on $2/ day or a high-roller “make-money-millionaire” traveling in first class or a private plane, it’s your experiences that make it worthwhile!

Today we sit back and reminisce on our travel highlights or perhaps daydream and mentally plan out our next travel destinations. COVID19 has not just impacted the tourism industry (as mention in my previous blog post) – It has devastated travel: both at a national and international level.

It was only recently that Manila gradually opened its airport departure doors to domestic travel. I will highlight my personal experience on this post:

As you can imagine, face masks are mandatory end-to-end. From the moment you step out of your home all the way through to the hotel/ final destination within the town you’re traveling to:

Physical distancing practices were quite impressive to in both Manila airport and the airport in my destination. Seating rails were still back-to-back, but the airport did mark off alternating seats to try and maximize the distance between patrons. Security measures were strict in both Manila and my destination - from screening all the way towards check in. I must have had my temperature taken at least three times in each destination.

I was actually expecting this trend to carry on towards the plane, particularly to apply to seating arrangements. I believe there is certainly some room for improvement here. Perhaps, they could apply the same strategy of “eliminating” alternating seats in order to minimize physical contact. However, I guess the person below knew what was coming:

Finally, the pictures below were taken upon landing back into Manila after my trip. There were lesser people in the flight back to Manila. Apart from the patrons in our flight, the airport felt rather quiet. Almost too quiet. The pictures below capture the full view of either side of the airport hallways in the arrivals’ section.

The bottom line here is that I was quite lucky to have been able to travel during this time (the purpose was quite urgent). From my point of view, it appears that there are certainly some good efforts in trying to make traveling work again. The Philippine economy heavily relies on both domestic and international travel and tourism and like many “tourist destination” countries, this has become an extreme struggle. However, I believe that with proper attention to physical distancing and prioritizing safety before "the perfect holiday" the Philippines may once again open its tourism industry bit by bit – after all, we need to accept the fact that for now, COVID19 is here to stay.


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