MANILA - Siquijor is preparing its COVID-19 safety protocols, targeting to open up to domestic tourism next month.
"We will probably be opening this March but no definite date yet since I will still be presenting to our IATF [Inter-Agency Task Force for on Emerging Infectious Diseases] our protocol. Once approved that will be the time we can open," Clebern Paglinawan, provincial tourism and environmental officer of Siquijor, told ABS-CBN News on Friday.
Siquijor Governor Zaldy Villa said provincial officials were eager to allow tourism back in the province.
Once reopened, tourists must present a negative RT-PCR or rapid antigen test result, a travel authority from the home local government unit (LGU), confirmed booking with a DOT-accredited accommodation, and an accomplished affidavit of undertaking, among others.
Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said the Department of Tourism, local government units (LGUs), and the private sector are working together to gear up for Siquijor's reopening.
Part of health and safety protocols are the inspection of hotels, inns and other lodging, as well as tourism enterprises.
As of February 15, the DOT has accredited 962 lodging businesses in Central Visayas, 37 of which are in Siquijor.
As of February 19, the DOT Region 7 has endorsed 696 tourism enterprises, tour guide groups and individuals, and community based-tourism associations, 40 of which are from Siquijor.
"Great progress has been made in making tourism bounce back, but there is still much we can all do to ensure the safe, responsible, and sustainable recovery of the tourism in Siquijor and the rest of the Philippines," Puyat said.
Before the COVID-19 lockdown, Siquijor recorded 143,286 same-day visitor arrivals and 37,651 overnight visitor arrivals in January to February 2020.