MANILA -- The Department of Tourism (DOT) supports the decision of Coron, Palawan to ease its travel restrictions last December 1.
Local tourists ages 15 to 65 are now allowed to enter the island, known for its crystal clear waters and beautiful rock formations, under a "test-before-travel" policy.
In a statement released Tuesday, DOT said it will continue to extend support to the provincial government by ensuring that health and safety protocols are strictly enforced in tourist sites, hotels, and other related establishments.
It has so far issued certificates of authority to operate to a total of 10 hotels and resorts in Coron.
"We're grateful for the decision of the local government officials and tourism stakeholders of Coron to finally welcome local visitors from all over the country. This will further help the tourism community of Palawan thrive during this time and bring back lost jobs to tourism workers," said Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat.
To visit Coron, local tourists must get a negative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) result within 72 hours of their trip.
They must also have a pre-arranged booking at a DOT-certified accommodation, with tour packages and itineraries also scheduled in advance.
Visitors are required to fill out an online health declaration form at the Coron Tourism website. Once registration is approved, they will be given a QR code that will serve as a pass upon entry to the island.
Upon arrival, all tourists will undergo health assessment at the triage area of Busuanga Airport. If found to be symptomatic, they will be required to undergo antigen testing, which costs P3,500. Those who tested positive will be brought to the isolation room of the booked hotel.
Meanwhile, tourists who have been cleared will be allowed to check in, and will be asked to present their negative RT-PCR test, roundtrip ticket, and confirmed booking itinerary.
Since tours are pre-booked, all of the guests' activities in and out of the hotel will be arranged by management for contact tracing purposes. Coron is implementing a 50% operations capacity to business establishments until 10 p.m.
The DOT reminded tourists planning to visit Coron to respect and follow its protocols as the pandemic continues.
"As we gradually reopen destinations, we continue to prioritize the health and safety of our visitors and tourism workers to prevent the spread COVID-19 in the country. We remind our LGUs (local government units) to enforce and monitor the minimum health and safety standards such as the wearing of face masks and shields, regular hand sanitizing and observance of physical distancing," Puyat said.