As motorcycle riders, we are probably the most adventurous in terms of going out and exploring the beautiful destinations in our country. Some of us ride in groups, while some prefer to ride solo or with their “OBR” (official back ride) when visiting some of these interesting tourist destinations.
When the global pandemic hit, inter-city travel has been limited to essential needs and workers only. 16 months after the initial country-wide lockdown, the economy is reopening again, and with that, so are outdoor tourism activities.
Moto Turismo is a campaign spearheaded by the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB), the marketing and promotions arm of the Department of Tourism, to spur domestic travel through motorcycle tourism. They want riders to go out and explore once again to help boost the economies of these destinations.
So if you’re a motorcycle rider who wants to tour the country, here are some of the things you need to do to start traveling again.
1. Prior to travel
Check with your destination tourism office
Since Local Government Units (LGU) have the power to enact policies that can allow or restrict travel, it would be prudent to check first with your destination’s Tourism Office.
They can enact policies that they think would be in the best interest of their constituents's safety. As such, they can go beyond the minimum protocols set by the IATF. Regularly check their social media sites and tourist sites to know their requirements for visitors. Bear in mind that these can change from week to week so check regularly.
For example, in Baguio City, tourists are required to check in first with the city’s registration portal, visita.baguio.gov.ph.
Register at S-PASS
S-PASS or the Safe, Swift and Smart Passage is an online-based registration portal for travelers. If your destination LGU is tagged as “restricted”, the S-PASS portal will advise you of the necessary steps to get your travel approval. This may require you to answer a few questions about your trip. Scan necessary documents like your photo, license, motorcycle registration, and any pertinent health documents like a vaccination card. You may have to upload these at S-Pass. You may also be asked to visit the LGU's specific site to register.
If your destination is not restricted and has no additional pre-requisites, an S-PASS QR code may no longer be necessary.
Once the local tourism office approves your visit, you may be required to take a COVID-19 test to make sure that you are not a carrier of the virus. With the help of the Department of Tourism and Tourism Promotions Board, tourists can avail of the subsidized RT-PCR test at Philippine Children’s Medical Center in Quezon City for PhP 750.00, while UP-PGH in Taft Avenue, Manila offers the same COVID-19 swab test for PhP 900.00. Take note that this is not the same as the regular antigen test.
To avail of the subsidized test, travelers must first register at https://www.tpb.gov.ph/rtpcrphtravel/. Please note, however, that most localities only consider an RT-PCR test valid for 72 hours after it was taken. With that in mind, plan your RT-PCR test as close to the date and time of your travel.
Some localities have also started to recognize fully-vaccinated individuals and may no longer require any COVID-19 test prior to entry.
2. During travel
Photo by General Nakar Municipal Information Office
Bring your travel documents
After securing the necessary permits and acceptance letter from the LGU of your destination, please make sure to bring all the documents with you. Usually, these documents include: an acceptance letter from the LGU destination, a QR code, RT-PCR test result, hotel bookings, and in some cases, S-Pass QR code confirmation.
You may be asked to present these documents at key checkpoints across the country, like border controls, seaports and the like.
Upon arrival at the tourist destination, you may have to first check-in at the LGU’s triage (like Baguio City) or border control. Also, keep in mind that your travel may be limited by the LGU to point-to-point only, for health and safety reasons. For example, if your desired destination is Camp John Hay in Baguio, your travel should only be from your home and Camp John Hay only and back. No side trips unless otherwise allowed by the LGU.
3. Follow minimum health and safety protocols
While at the destination LGU, always follow the minimum health and safety standards set at that place. This means wearing face masks and face shields when in public and regularly washing or sanitizing your hands.
If it's a multi-day trip, don't forget to bring extra face shields and face masks. You might want to invest in reuseable face masks and a foldable face shield to save space.
Finally, make sure that your motorcycle is in tip-top condition days before traveling. The last thing you want is a break down during your trip and to go through all this again to come back and fix your bike or explain to the authorities why you overstayed.