COVID-19 Crisis: Metro Manila under Alert Level 3 from October 16 to 31, 2021

Finally, business and residents of Metro Manila will be dealing with lesser restrictions as the national authorities declared that the metropolis will be under Alert Level 3 (previously Alert Level 4 from mid-September to mid-October) from October 16 to October 31, 2021 as reported by Philippine News Agency (PNA). Lesser restrictions should mean more reopening of the economy, more people can attend indoor worship services at churches (note: being vaccinated may be required) and more.

To put things in perspective, posted below is an excerpt from the PNA report. Some parts in boldface…

The alert level status in Metro Manila will be downgraded to Alert Level 3 from the current Alert Level 4 beginning Oct. 16, Malacañang announced Wednesday.

This, after the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) decided to ease restrictions in Metro Manila, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a press statement.

“The Inter-Agency Task Force on Wednesday, October 13, 2021, approved the recommendation to place the National Capital Region under Alert Level 3 beginning October 16, 2021 until October 31, 2021,” said Roque, also acting as IATF-EID spokesperson.

He said the IATF-EID also approved and adopted the revisions to the Guidelines on the Implementation of Alert Levels System for Covid-19 Response in the Pilot Areas.

A copy of the new guidelines has yet to be made public.

Metro Manila’s shift to Alert Level 3 came amid the drop in coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) infections in the country’s metropolis.

The relaxation of alert level in Metro Manila will pave the way for the reopening of more businesses.

Now watch this related news video from GMA Network…

Staycation in Metro Manila allowed to resume

The Department of Tourism (DOT) announced that staycation within Metro Manila will be allowed under Alert Level 3, specifically in accredited hotels. Unsurprisingly there are certain limitations.

To put things in perspective, posted below is the excerpt from the PNA report. Some parts in boldface…

Staycation is now allowed in accredited Metro Manila hotels as the region eases to Alert Level 3 from October 16 until the end of the month, the Department of Tourism (DOT) said Thursday.

Individuals of all ages may check-in for staycation. However, to ensure safety of all guests, only those 18 years old and above who are fully vaccinated shall be allowed to book their stay,” the DOT said.

Under the amended guidelines, only DOT-accredited staycation hotels with government-issued safety seal certification will be allowed to accommodate staycation guests.

Cinemas in Metro Manila cleared to resume operations

Speaking of the reopening of businesses, cinemas in Metro Manila have been cleared to resume their operations but with a set of limitations. Still, this is indeed a breakthrough because Metro Manila cinemas have been closed (note: use of cinemas as temporary vaccination sites do not count as operations) for a very long time and the nation’s cinema industry had an estimated 300,000 employees. Take note that months ago, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) announced that it has allowed a variety of businesses around the Philippines to resume operations to recover from the COVID-19 crisis and cinemas were among those businesses. However the mayors of Metro Manila opposed the decision.

To put things in perspective regarding the newest development, posted below is an excerpt from the Philippine Daily Inquirer report. Some parts in boldface…

Cinemas and movie houses may already operate when Metro Manila eases to Alert Level 3 starting Saturday, October 16.

Under the updated guidelines on the pilot implementation of the government’s new COVID-19 alert level system, cinemas and movie houses are allowed to operate under Alert Level 3 at a maximum of 30% indoor capacity for fully vaccinated individuals and 50% outdoor venue capacity.

All cinemas and movie house workers and employees should also be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as minimum public health standards should be strictly followed.

Personally, I am glad that cinemas have been cleared to reopen within Metro Manila as the metropolis itself is the single largest region where movie theaters are located at and it should add to the economic recovery our nation badly needs. The cinema operators and their employees have suffered way too long! That being said, I urge you to observe how the Metro Manila mayors and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) will react to the clearance for the reopening of cinemas. Will the Metro Manila Council (MMC) and MMDA oppose the IATF and keep the cinemas shut down again knowing that many of their constituents have been vaccinated over the past several months? We will find out soon enough.

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: What do you think about this latest development? If you are a business owner who badly needs customers to avail of services indoors, are the approved standards for Alert Level 3 good enough? If you want to worship the Lord on Sunday during worship services indoors at your local church, were the mentioned changes good enough? What do you plan to do once your local cinema reopens?

You may answer in the comments below. If you prefer to answer privately, you may do so by sending me a direct message online.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

For more South Metro Manila community news and developments, come back here soon. Also say NO to fake news, NO to irresponsible journalism, NO to misinformation, NO to plagiarists, NO to reckless publishers and NO to sinister propaganda when it comes to news and developments. For South Metro Manila community developments, member engagements, commerce and other relevant updates, join the growing South Metro Manila Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/342183059992673

COVID-19 Crisis: More than 43,000 businesses certified with Safety Seals

Since its implementation months ago (click here, here and here) the Safety Seal certification program has covered a lot of business establishments and offices (including government). Recently, it was reported by the Philippine News Agency (PNA) that more than 43,000 business establishments nationwide have been certified safe as Safety Seals were issued to them. This is really good news because our nation badly needs economic recovery as a lot of workers lost their jobs and income as a result of the last enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) that happened in Metro Manila as well in other regions. The national economy has clearly been damaged not only by COVID-19 but also by the lockdowns (note: observe closely how the top officials of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority and the Metro Manila Council think and act when making their recommendations to the IATF).

To put things in perspective, posted below is an excerpt from the PNA article. Some parts in boldface…

A total of 43,332 public and private establishments nationwide have been issued safety seal certifications, an assurance to the public that health protocols are put in place amid the quarantine restrictions.

The safety seal certification program indicates the compliance of establishments to the minimum public health standards (MPHS) set by the government.

In a news release issued Tuesday, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said the certification program is beneficial to the country’s recovering economy as it boosts the confidence of consumers in going out and patronizing business in the new normal with the assurance that a business establishment is compliant with health protocols.

He encouraged more businesses to adopt the seal as an effective measure in curbing the spread of the Covid-19 virus.

Businesses can do their share in the fight against the pandemic and create a healthy space for consumers to transact their purchases and for employees to gainfully and safely earn a living,” Lopez said.

Interior Secretary Eduardo Año told owners of establishments, especially those in areas under strict quarantine restrictions, to take the time to apply for a safety seal.

Applying for a Safety Seal is not mandatory. However, business establishments are highly encouraged to apply since this will also help them attract customers which eventually leads to increased sales and profit,” he said.

Since its implementation in May 2021, a total of 85,731 applications were received by the issuing agencies as reported by the Safety Seal Technical Working Group (TWG); 50.54 percent or 43,332 applications were approved while 11.50 percent or 9,858 applications were either denied or referred to the appropriate agency.

The remaining percentage represents those that are still in the inspection process.

“I commend and congratulate the establishments that have taken the lead in securing their Safety Seal certifications. This will build confidence that their respective companies are committed to ensuring the health and safety of their stakeholders and workers,” said Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III.

Under the program, a business establishment is eligible to apply for a safety seal given that it is duly registered, adopting the Staysafe.ph app or any other local government unit-mandated digital contact tracing application and strictly following and implementing the MPHS.

“The implementation of the Safety Seal Program is a very laudable initiative that highly reinforces our country’s response to combat Covid-19. As we gradually reopen our economy, it is important to ensure that our people are safe, and adherence to Minimum Public Health Standards is one vital key to this aspect,” Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said.

The Department of Tourism (DOT) also reaches out to tourism establishment owners to get the seal.

“The Safety Seal certification program bodes well with the DOT’s priority to ensure the health and safety of both tourists and tourism workers. Let us continue to make travel fun and safe for all,” Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said.

The Safety Seal Technical Working Group assured the public that the government exerts the best efforts with a whole-of-government and whole-of-society coordination in support of the Inter-Agency Task Force’s Prevent-Detect-Isolate-Treat-Reintegrate (PDITR) strategy.

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: As a consumer, are you confident that economic recovery will happen over the next twelve months? Are there still many business joints in your local community that are operating without Safety Seals? Do you believe that the MMDA and the Metro Manila Council should be held accountable for every job lost as a result of their recommending ECQ to the IATF?

You may answer in the comments below. If you prefer to answer privately, you may do so by sending me a direct message online.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

For more South Metro Manila community news and developments, come back here soon. Also say NO to fake news, NO to irresponsible journalism, NO to misinformation, NO to plagiarists, NO to reckless publishers and NO to sinister propaganda when it comes to news and developments. For South Metro Manila community developments, member engagements, commerce and other relevant updates, join the growing South Metro Manila Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/342183059992673

COVID-19 Crisis: Initial batch of Las Piñas City Hall offices certified safe to visit

If you are planning to visit Las Pinas City Hall very soon, then you should be delighted to know that the first of many offices there have just been certified safe to visit as a result of the Safety Seals posted there. This is similar to what happened at Alabang Town Center (ATC) in nearby Muntinlupa City except that this one is about government offices.

To put things in perspective, posted below is the information from the City Government’s official Facebook page post (translated from Tagalog). Some parts in boldface…

The initial awarding of the Safety Seal was held today (at) other offices within Las Piñas City Hall that passed the standard from the Joint Memorandum of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Department of Health (DOH), Department of Tourism (DOT), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

 Among the offices awarded are the Mayor’s Office, City Planning Office, Business Permit and Licensing Office, Office of the City Treasurer and Human Resource Management Office. The DILG Inspection and Certification Team that awarded the safety is comprised of DILG City Director Mary Anne Planas, BFP City Director FSupt. Christopher Angot, LPC Asst. Chief of Police for Administration PLTCOL. Jose Anaz and LPC Chief of Police PLTCOL. Rodel Pastor.

 In the coming days, safety seals will continue to be awarded to offices that pass the standards of Joint Memorandum 21-01 Implementing Guidelines of the Safety Seal Certification Program.

The team installing the first of several Safety Seals at offices at City Hall that passed the tests, including the Office of the Mayor. (source – City of Las Pinas Facebook page)

Any Las Piñas resident who has yet to get registered for free COVID-19 vaccines can learn the ways (4 methods) by clicking here. Anyone who is ready and willing to register online can click bit.ly/LasPiñasVaccination

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: Are you more confident to visit City Hall now that the Safety Seals have been posted on its offices? When was the last time you visited any of the offices at City Hall?

You may answer in the comments below. If you prefer to answer privately, you may do so by sending me a direct message online.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

For more South Metro Manila community news and developments, come back here soon. Also say NO to fake news, NO to irresponsible journalism, NO to misinformation, NO to plagiarists, NO to reckless publishers and NO to sinister propaganda when it comes to news and developments. For South Metro Manila community developments, member engagements, commerce and other relevant updates, join the growing South Metro Manila Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/342183059992673

COVID-19 Crisis: National Capital Region (NCR) and 4 nearby provinces now under GCQ until April 4, 2021

It is all over the news and already a lot of people got affected specifically in the National Capital Region (NCR) and the nearby provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal. This past Sunday, the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) issued a new resolution (Resolution #104) in response to the spike of COVID-19 cases in the country. There was a single-day high of 7,999 new COVID-19 cases reported recently followed by blaming the government and economic managers.

Firstly, there is no lockdown which is good news. This is about retaining the General Community Quarantine (GCQ) status for NCR while the four nearby provinces have fallen under the same status.

To put things in perspective, posted below are excerpts from the Philippine News Agency (PNA) report…

Excerpt 1

Under IATF Resolution No. 104, he said only essential travel into and out of Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, Rizal will be allowed.

Excerpt 2

Traveling into and out of Metro Manila and the provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, Rizal will be prohibited. We will have a sort of bubble in NCR, and the provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, Rizal,” he said.

Travel of authorized persons outside their residences (APORs) such as essential workers, health and emergency frontline services personnel; government officials and government frontline personnel; duly-authorized humanitarian assistance actors; persons traveling for medical or humanitarian reasons; persons going to the airport for travel abroad, returning overseas Filipinos and overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) will be unimpeded for as long as they show their respective work identification cards.

Individuals crossing zones for work or business and going back home will also be allowed to travel to and from the said areas.

“Kung kayo ay uuwi, essential travel po ‘yun. Kailangan lang magpakita ng ID kung saan ka talaga nakatira (If you’re going back home that’s essential travel. All you need to do is show your ID to prove that you live there),” he said.

Excerpt 3

Public gatherings limited

All public gatherings, including religious gatherings, will be prohibited but weddings, baptism, and funerals will be allowed but must observe a 10-person venue capacity.

Current operational capacities of essential and non-essential services and industries will remain.

However, face-to-face meetings, group meals in workplaces will be prohibited. Instead, work-from-home and virtual meetings are encouraged.

Roque said the IATF resolution also enjoins the private sector to adopt similar alternative working arrangements as those in place in the executive branch of government such as operating on a 30 to 50 capacity.

Only outdoor dining allowed

As for dining, Roque said only outdoor dining will be allowed in areas under GCQ while indoor dining will be strictly prohibited.

“Pagdating po sa mga restaurants, ang papayagan lang po yung mga outdoor dining (When it comes to restaurants, we will only allow those with outdoor dining),” he said.

Outdoor dining must observe a maximum of 50 percent venue capacity.

Take out and delivery is encouraged, he added.

Wear masks at home

Although the economy will stay open, Roque said the IATF resolution will require persons below 18-years-old and above 65-years-old, those with comorbidities, and pregnant women to remain inside their residences at all times.

The IATF resolution also advises the wearing of face mask at home especially when living with elderly and vulnerable.

Accepting of visitors outside immediate family or household is strongly discouraged.

Operations of driving schools, traditional cinemas and video and interactive game arcades, libraries, archives, museums, and cultural centers, limited social events at accredited tourism establishments and limited tourism attractions will be temporarily suspended except open-air tourism attractions.

Before the IATF’s new resolution was issued, the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) went ahead in shortening the hours of voter registration as well as suspending the organizing of satellite registration (registration processes held outside of their office) which started yesterday. People around the Philippines have until the end September 2021 to register themselves or adjust their respective voter statuses in preparation of the May 2022 presidential, national and local elections.

For their part, the Department of Tourism (DOT) announced yesterday that it would yield to public health concerns in relation to the GCQ status for NCR and the 4 nearby provinces.

With regards to the IATF’s prohibition on indoor dining, already the shopping malls and restaurants here in South Metro Manila have made adjustments and updated their customers. Sigekiya Ramen announced that their restaurant at Commercenter, Filinvest City in Alabang, is still allowed to accommodate paying customers for outdoor dining. Like many others, they also offer takeout and delivery services. Alabang Town Center and Festival Mall in Alabang posted updates about safety protocols in accordance to IATF Resolution #104.

With all these developments in place, people in the NCR and the affected provinces under GCQ will have to adjust. It is okay to keep reporting to work but there is a need to be cautious with regards to personal safety and avoiding COVID-19 infection as much as possible. There is also the need to prioritize where to go and what to do. All of these are in effect until April 4, 2021 and here is hoping that the current situation will improve (that the daily COVID-19 count of new cases will go down) so that the new round of restrictions under GCQ will not be extended.

Better yet, I encourage you all to look up to our Lord Jesus and keep having unwavering faith in Him. I also encourage you all to read chapter 91 of the Book of Psalm in the Holy Bible and pray in tongues to our Lord in the privacy in your respective rooms (with the door shut closed). Open your heart to the Lord, always.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

For more South Metro Manila community news and developments, come back here soon. Also say NO to fake news, NO to irresponsible journalism, NO to misinformation, NO to plagiarists, NO to reckless publishers and NO to sinister propaganda when it comes to news and developments. For South Metro Manila community developments, member engagements, commerce and other relevant updates, join the growing South Metro Manila Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/342183059992673

CREATE bill to boost Philippine economy by cutting corporate income tax and implementing incentives

Yesterday, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez announced that the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) Act is aimed to reduce the corporate income tax which should lead to creating more jobs as well as attracting investments.

Given the dramatic fall of the Philippine economy as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the CREATE bill could be the big solution to boost the economy and pave the way for recovery. For almost a year now, the said pandemic caused a lot of people to lose their jobs and much of their income. A lot of businesses closed down as well.

For your reference, here is a long excerpt of the news release about the said bill published via Philippine News Agency (PNA). Key words are highlighted in bold:

The recent bicameral approval of the game-changing CREATE Act can also provide a big boost to the National Employment Recovery Strategy (NERS) Task Force chaired by the DTI and co-chaired by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), which was signed last Feb. 5 by several agencies.  

“The landmark tax and incentives reform bill that we expect to be signed by the President is expected to bring in (a) massive inflow of investments that will create more jobs, especially as we focus efforts in the National Employment Recovery during this period of the pandemic and beyond. The passing of CREATE will firm up the tax and incentive reforms that will make the investment climate significantly more attractive than the current tax and incentive regime,” Lopez said in a statement.

He said the bill will certainly encourage more investments with the lowering of the corporate income taxes rate from 30 percent to 20 percent for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), and 25 percent for large corporations.

“Modernizing the incentives system likewise makes the incentives such as income tax holiday (ITH), special corporate income tax rates (SCIT) or enhanced deductions (ED), available to industries considered strategic, critical or export oriented,” he added.

The Trade chief said the length of incentives, such as four to seven years of ITH plus five or 10 years of SCIT or ED, will depend on the nature of industry, export or domestic oriented, degree of technology and value adding, and geographical location, with additional years outside the Metro Manila and urban centers.

“There is also (a) longer transition period for those currently granted incentives. Thus, incentives are now made more performance-based, focused and timebound,” Lopez said.

CREATE is a bill certified urgent by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte upon the recommendation of the economic team led by Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III.

Lopez also thanked the legislators at the Senate and the House of Representatives, with Sen. Pia Cayetano and Rep. Joey Salceda, respectively, as principal authors, for the hard work of the committee members in bringing the CREATE bill to fruition.

“The passing of CREATE will unleash the growth potential of investments by removing uncertainties during the period that the bill was under deliberation,” Lopez said. “Based on our estimate and those from Cong. Joey Salceda, CREATE can bring in over PHP200 billion of new investments that can generate 1.4 (million) to 2 million incremental jobs.”

CREATE will help boost investments in the Philippines, which would support the 2021 target of the Board of Investments (BOI) of PHP1.25-trillion investment approvals.

A report by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) had also estimated that the Philippines bucked the trend in Southeast Asia, and had increased its foreign direct investments (FDIs) during the pandemic by 29 percent last year.

Meanwhile, the NERS 2021-2023 is a medium-term plan anchored on the updated Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022 and ReCharge PH by expanding the Trabaho, Negosyo, Kabuhayan initiative and improving access and security of employment.

The strategy also takes into consideration the changes in the labor market brought about by the pandemic and the fast adoption of Fourth Industrial Revolution (FIRe) technologies.

“NERS shall also consolidate all measures, programs, and institutions that influence the demand and supply of labor, as well as the functioning of labor markets,” Lopez said.

Members of NERS Oversight Committee include the Departments of Transportation (DOTr), Tourism (DOT), Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Science and Technology (DOST), Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Agriculture (DA), Agrarian Reform (DAR), Interior and Local Government (DILG), Information and Communications Technology (DICT),  Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Education (DepEd), Commission on Higher Education (CHED), and National Security Council (NSC), as well as the Office of the Cabinet Secretary (OCS), Departments of Finance (DOF) and Budget and Management (DBM), and the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello III said: “This JMC (joint memorandum circular) will fortify our collective undertaking as a Task Force working to develop a policy environment that encourages the generation of more employment opportunities, improves employability and productivity of workers, and supports existing and emerging businesses.”

Lopez further stressed the importance of continuing with the calibrated and safe reopening of the economy to allow the country to regain the growth momentum that it had before the pandemic. 

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Thank you for reading. If you find this post engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

Taking a Vacation? Beware of Scammers and Non-Accredited Travel Businesses

It sure is nice to go out on holiday so that you can enjoy something nice and relieve yourself of the stress you accumulated from regular work.

But what if your hard-earned money goes to waste or, even worse, gets stolen by someone with criminal intentions?

Yesterday the Department of Tourism (DOT) here in the Philippines warned the public about making transactions with non-accredited entities engaged in travel and tours, airline ticketing and other travel businesses.

This was in response to reports they received about the proliferation of the non-accredited entities that posted advertisements on the different social media platforms or airline ticketing, travel and tours arrangement, hotel booking, and training offerings for travel business management.

“The public is hereby warned to be vigilant in dealing with these entities as there can be no guarantee on the reliability and legitimacy of their products and services,” the DOT said in its statement.

This development by the DOT is timely. Just days ago, there was this TV news report about a lady who got victimized by another lady who turned out to be a fake travel agent.

She paid a lot of money to the scammer for a Hong Kong vacation with her kids. As the scammer contacted her telling her to deposit thousands of pesos more for the vacation due to a “price increase”. The victim became suspicious and she went to the local authorities. Afterwards a personal meeting between the two happened in Las Pinas City and eventually the scammer got arrested.

You can watch the Tagalog language TV news video below.

Going back to the Department of Tourism, they said there are only select training centers that accredited to offer courses on putting up travel agencies and other tourism-related services. All travel agencies/ tour operators, including online bookings, are covered under the DOT Accreditation Law requiring accreditation before issuance of business permits, it stressed.

The DOT stated that entities with valid and existing accreditation with them have informative websites and/or online pages bearing the DOT’s Quality Seal and their corresponding Accreditation Number with validity.

For a complete list of DOT-accredited enterprises, the public are encouraged to visit the DOT’s website.

The lesson here is that you should not allow yourself to be fooled and tempted by those attractive holiday ads on social media as well as those transmitted via email or snail mail.

Always ask yourself if the seller is accredited by the DOT. Don’t forget to do a background check on the travel package and services seller.

Remember to be cautious and analyze the situation carefully before you proceed to book a vacation or avail any travel-related service. There are lots of scammers online and they are already making things hard not only for customers but also for the legitimate travel businesses.