MANILA — The Department of Tourism (DOT) on Saturday welcomed the decision of El Nido, Palawan’s municipality to ease travel restrictions starting October 30, allowing tourists to enter the island under a test-before-travel policy.
Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, during the agency’s meeting with Palawan’s local government for the province’s tourism bubble expansion, congratulated El Nido officials for moving on to the second phase of the province’s travel bubble.
But she said tourists should still undergo the RT-PCR test and get negative results at least 72 hours before the trip.
“The tourism industry’s reopening is gradually building momentum, especially after the news about the re-opening of Boracay and the Ridge and Reef travel bubble between Baguio and the provinces of Region 1,” Puyat said.
“Considering that Palawan's El Nido has been consistently voted as the world's best island, I would also like El Nido to be seen as part of the industry's rebirth.”
Puyat noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has cost El Nido P3.2 billion worth of visitor receipts, and displaced 5,997 of its tourism workers.
As early as July, the tourism chief visited El Nido to conduct inspections among tourism establishments to ensure their compliance to the DOT’s health and safety guidelines.
She also consulted local leaders and stakeholders to align with the DOT’s so-called slow-but-sure strategy to jumpstart domestic tourism.
“There are 9 establishments for now that have obtained a certificate of authority (COA) to operate from the DOT and which may start accommodating guests,” she said.
After successfully complying with the protocols set by the DOT, the group El Nido Resorts was the first tourism establishment in Palawan to obtain a CAO and to reopen its doors to tourists from outside the province through the travel bubble strategy.
Since July, guests from Manila that have obtained a negative RT-PCR test result were allowed to board the 8 flights to Lio Airport through Airswift, and stay at one of the island locations of the resort chain.
Following the successful runs of the travel bubble strategy between Manila and El Nido, Puyat said the DOT is now taking further steps to increase visitor confidence and awareness about Palawan’s preparedness in terms of medical services and facilities, as well as emergency response protocols.