Philippines Department of Tourism Discusses with Civil Aviation Protection Measures for Passengers

Residents living along Taal lake catch fish as Taal volcano erupts in Tanauan town, Batangas province south of Manila on January 14, 2020. - Taal volcano in the Philippines could spew lava and ash for weeks, authorities warned on January 14, leaving thousands in limbo after fleeing their homes fearing a massive eruption. (Photo by Ted ALJIBE / AFP)

The Department of Tourism (DOT) on Friday said it is scheduled to discuss with the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) the implementation of a calamity protocol amid the continuing unrest of the Taal Volcano.

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat will attend the meeting with CAB on Monday to discuss the implementation of rules that airlines must follow during times of emergencies and natural calamities, such as the current one in Batangas.

“Airlines must maintain communication with their passengers and update them regarding flight delays, cancellations, and resumptions ahead of schedule, in order to give travelers ample time to plan their trip and avoid unnecessary stranding at the airport,” the department said in a statement.

It added that as vice chairman of the CAB, the DOT prioritizes the “provision of adequate, efficient, economical and convenient air services to travelers.”

Some 516 flights and an estimated 80,000 passengers were affected when flight operations at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport were put on hold on Sunday night as a result of ashfall from the Taal Volcano eruption.

Partial operations resumed on Monday, with the first flight arrival recorded at 12:21 p.m., and first departure flight being able to take off at 12:31 p.m.

Taal Volcano remains under Alert Level 4, which means a hazardous eruption is possible within hours or days.

Meanwhile, the  DOT indicated that travel in other parts of Luzon remains safe and accessible despite Taal Volcano eruption. ” The DOT would like to reiterate that travel in other parts of Luzon, and the rest of the country remains safe and accessible,” the DOT said in a statement last week.

The agency said the tourism industry in the affected areas, particularly in Tagaytay City, has “suffered a tremendous setback”. There is no available data yet as to the total number of tourism establishments affected in Calabarzon but records from the DOT showed Batangas as the region’s top destination for overnight tourists, with arrivals in 2018 reaching 2,552,149 followed by Rizal with 1,735,806 visitors.