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The joys of booking a holiday to an approved DOT destination


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Having spent two days trying to organise everything for my ex partner and her daughter to visit me on Boracay from Cebu I can safely say while RT-PCR tests are required tourism wil remain dead.

In order to get to a DOT area you require an RT-PCR valid within 72hrs of your flight, confirmed flight, a traze app, confirmed booking of accomodation at a DOT approved hotel, health declaration form, copies of ID and finally a QR code.

The two biggest headaches are getting the RT-PCR test and flight to coincide with each other.  I started by checking flights and found the majority are non refundable unles you can wait 7 months but can be put in a travel fund or you can change the flight date.

I then tried to source RT-PCR test in the Cebu area.  The government site lists all the laboratories but only two have numbers where they just ring and ring. The times I got through I was put on hold then hung up on.  I looked on their websites and many never had numbers either and messenger was through to a bot again not a human. I finaly got a hold of the Red cross who told me to book online.  Their website is for Manila bookings only grrrrrr.  I eventually got a reply by email and filled the forms in for a date to tie in with the flight and the booking is non refundable.

Test booked yeh, flight booked yeh, two minutes later flight cancelled with the option of change of flight, travel fund or wait 7 months on a refund. After panicking I found a flight on the same day so the test would still be in date and proceeded to book accomodation, luckily the accomodation bookings wouldn't go through as now the return flight cancelled and there was no option to book a flight in a reasonable time frame as all of the month is cancelled. There was no option to cancel just the return section I had to cancel all or nothing but in the end changed the return flight to the end of May thinking she will visit again in May and use that flight to go home if it doesn't cancel. I then had to book with another airline for a seperate return to Cebu on the 19th.  I'm now sitting hoping both flights are still flying as it's a lot of money to blow for a last minute cancellation. 

How they expect the average Filipino with their wages to go through this I don't know as the test prices are a rip off, from 3.8k peso to over 5k peso each person.

 

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Several comments, if you dont mind.

11 hours ago, Snowy79 said:

where they just ring and ring.

This is not just a problem here in the PI. For some reason it is normal pinoy buisness practice. While still living in the states we would ship BB boxes to relatives via lbc or do routine banking with BPI. While visiting those branches several times I would observe 3-4 Fil/Ams who worked there engaged with customers, if the phone rang they would just let it ring and ring and ring. Not even answer and ask the person to hold. I would just stand in line and watch as the phone rang 10-20 times,,,,stop for a minute and start ringing again....The staff was just oblivious to it.:89:

11 hours ago, Snowy79 said:

72hrs of your flight,

And the time limit is not even standardized. Staycation locations here in Manila require 72 hours, I enquired of our favorite resort in neighboring Batangas and the test must be with in 24 hours of check in, almost impossible to meet this standard with travel time, wait time, test time, wait for results and then proceed to destination.....supposed to go to a resort to unwind....but getting there is just to stressful :hystery:

11 hours ago, Snowy79 said:

How they expect the average Filipino with their wages

The staycation idea is not really targeted at the average bloke IMHO, but the sub-division set. But as you have posted the requirements are so onerous that the upper middle and upper classes will just stay home in their comfortable homes....add to that the restrictions to kids and Grand parents...we all know how family oriented folks are here.

11 hours ago, Snowy79 said:

The two biggest headaches are getting the RT-PCR test

Yesterday we went to Okada casino for lunch and some play...after I blew my allowance on the crap table:sad: and the wife was still on her slot machine :popcorn: I went to the hotel check in desk to confirm something I had heard. If you make a reservation online, you can request a covid test at the same time. You pull into the entrance, they take your bags lead you to a testing area (the grand ball room it turns out) get swabbed, told to sit for 20-30 minutes. If you are proved negative you are taken to our room where you bags are waiting. What defies logic though, is that you are then free to mingle on the casino floor and restaurants with all the day visitors who only wash their hands, get a temp check go though a sterilization spray booth and wear face mask and shield :hungover_40_anim_gif:. Admittedly Okada is a 5 star establishment. Oh, the test is 1200 peso each.

IMHO the game changer to revive the tourism industry will be to get the saliva test online...If the DOH would get off the dime and approve it.:thumbsup:

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Snowy as much as I sympathize with  your situation I do admire your tolerance.

We decided 2 days ago to visit and soak in Mambucal hot springs as on line research showed it has reopened. After calling for over  2 hours we finally got through.....Yes Sir we are open again, same prices as last year. packed up our little kit and drove about 1 hour plus for our much needed soak....

Arrived GATE CLOSED.....strange.....my partner went through a small side gate and found 5 security guards resting.......Sorry Miss we have not reopened for for over a year......

tried to contact office to ask the proverbial WHY......of course fone not picked up......... 

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1 minute ago, RBM said:

Snowy as much as I sympathize with  your situation I do admire your tolerance.

We decided 2 days ago to visit and soak in Mambucal hot springs as on line research showed it has reopened. After calling for over  2 hours we finally got through.....Yes Sir we are open again, same prices as last year. packed up our little kit and drove about 1 hour plus for our much needed soak....

Arrived GATE CLOSED.....strange.....my partner went through a small side gate and found 5 security guards resting.......Sorry Miss we have not reopened for for over a year......

tried to contact office to ask the proverbial WHY......of course fone not picked up......... 

Yes fortunately I can remain cool and calm on the outside while ready to explode on the inside.  The down right lies get me though.  I'd rather they admitted they don't know something or can't understand me but they would rather lie to save face than admit not knowing or as happened just hung up on me then never picked up again. 

Good luck with anyone dealing with Cebu Pacific, it's all computerised with zero human interaction.  They do accept messages and hope to reply within 7 days which is not much use when your flight is  few days away.  I'm still awaiting replies since March last year when Covid kicked off.  I even went to their office at Caticlan Airport and initially they wouldn't open their door.  I could hear people talking inside but the door was locked and shouting and knocking initially never helped.  In the end I just kept banging louder and louder continuously until other people in different buildings came out and finally they opened the door and pretended they hadn't heard me.  When I told them my problem they told me I can sort it online.  I told them what to do with their online help then they gave me their phone number, the one with the computers so I told thm to shove that also and to get on their computer and sort it for me instead. 5 minutes later I left slightly happier but the flight is Sunday so I'm not holding my breath.

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Sadly, the people who make the rules ( those fabulous officials who paid to get elected ) have no idea, none at all how the reality of the decisions they make play out.

Im quite sure that their rules and " protocols" ( a much misused and probably misunderstood word over the past years ) look good on paper but the reality is that very few now want to travel.

One hotel I inquired about recently in Tagaytay wanted a RT PCR test completed with a maximum of 4 hours from test to check in.  Great in theory, garbage in reality.

Until they get a grip and an understanding that the rules that are being made  are unworkable , not much is going to happen.

And for sure, we can expect an enormous amount of mess , screw up and definitely inconsistencies when vaccines finally do arrive.....

( AS an aside, my gf went to Leyte in December and was told she would have to be an LSI and they told her in writing that she would have to stay in Leyte for many many months and probably couldnt return to Manila till 2022.  I booked a flight for her on Jan 21st 2021 and she returned on  Jan 26th.

Rules vs Reality .

 

Hope it all goes smooth for you Snowy.. ocassionally the stars align !

 

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Thanks Freebie.  It's certainly nerve racking knowing that one change could ruin everything.  I've booked her a return flight on the 19th with Philippines Airlines and shortly afterwards they released a statement saying the are laying off 2,300 workers.

I noticed at the start of the Covid crisis a few tourists here on Boracay were getting shafted for over $1,000 a flight home, many in families of four and the flights kept getting cancelled and refunds take forever.  A few ended up running out of money as they'd spent their savings on the flights and never had enough money to book a new flight.  That must have been horrendous.  Especially when some had 3 flights cancelled.

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12 hours ago, scott h said:

This is not just a problem here in the PI. For some reason it is normal pinoy buisness practice. While still living in the states we would ship BB boxes to relatives via lbc or do routine banking with BPI. While visiting those branches several times I would observe 3-4 Fil/Ams who worked there engaged with customers, if the phone rang they would just let it ring and ring and ring. Not even answer and ask the person to hold. I would just stand in line and watch as the phone rang 10-20 times,,,,stop for a minute and start ringing again....The staff was just oblivious to it

It seems that they can compartmentalize their hearing or block out everything else while they focus on one thing. While playing with their phones, they hear nothing else, no dogs, no roosters, no knocking at the gate.....just one channel open. Sometimes, it is a good thing to be able to do that. Relaying messages is another thing too.

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18 hours ago, scott h said:

I would observe 3-4 Fil/Ams who worked there engaged with customers, if the phone rang they would just let it ring and ring and ring. Not even answer and ask the person to hold. I would just stand in line and watch as the phone rang 10-20 times,,,,stop for a minute and start ringing again....The staff was just oblivious to it.:89:

Oh how I wish everybody did that.  It is so annoying to wait in line and finally get attention then get the "wait a sec" finger while the staff member gave full attention to the phone call for 5 minutes.  You should not get priority service because you make a phone call when people have been waiting in line, in my opinion.

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Considering the difficulties in just traveling locally never would i even think about flying anywhere.

There is one senior foreigner close by whom is well over due now on his visa....just hunkers down and gets on with his life. Like an Aussie or Kiwi impossible to return so what does one do.

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42 minutes ago, RBM said:

Considering the difficulties in just traveling locally never would i even think about flying anywhere.

There is one senior foreigner close by whom is well over due now on his visa....just hunkers down and gets on with his life. Like an Aussie or Kiwi impossible to return so what does one do.

I am not in that position fortunately (arrived Nov 2019 this time), but if I were......  the 'sensible' thing to do, would be to stay put and stay safe.  You'd have to deal when you leave, with the overstay fines and fees..... but that may be ameliorated in the future.  I do hope that it is given some regulatory thought and consideration by the government eventually. 

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