MANILA— The local government of Batanes is looking to reopen its doors to tourists soon even as the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic lingers.
In a press briefing Saturday, Batanes Gov. Marilou Cayco said the local pandemic task force has agreed to reopen the province to tourists provided that they comply with minimum health standards, such as a 14-day quarantine.
But officials will have to assess the situation for tourists coming from areas such as Metro Manila - the epicenter of the virus - and other cities to determine which visitors will be allowed, she said.
"Sabi ko, mag-assess kami by December. Titingnan namin kung ano sitwasyon sa Manila at iba pang probinsiya para po 'pag bumuti na po ay puwede na rin ang unti-unting pagbubukas nito dahil dito marami po ang affected nitong pandemya na ito lalo nasa tourism industry po," Cayco said.
(We will assess by December. We will look at the situation [in other cities] so when things are better, we can gradually open [to tourism] because a lot were affected during the pandemic especially in the tourism industry.)
Batanes is among the country's most popular tourist destinations known for its picturesque sights and peaceful atmosphere that offer a respite for urban dwellers.
The country's northernmost province has only recorded two cases since the pandemic started in March. Now that both patients have recovered, Cayco said the province is "COVID-free" again.
A group of travel agencies in September said Filipinos who have been in varied lockdowns since March want to visit Batanes, Boracay, and Bohol.
The tourism industry is among the most affected by the COVID-19 lockdowns, as the government sought to limit mobility and prevent the spread of the highly-contagious virus.
Prior to this, some tourist spots such as Boracay and Baguio City have reopened their doors to tourists provided that visitors follow quarantine procedures and submit documents as proof that they are fit to travel.
The Philippines has tallied 391,809 coronavirus cases as of Friday.