The Department of Tourism (DOT) welcomes the decision of the municipal government of El Nido to ease its travel restrictions starting Oct. 30, allowing tourists to enter the island under a test-before-travel policy.

The local heads have yet to finalize the details of the expansion of the travel bubble. Currently, only Palawan-based tourists, both foreign and local, are allowed to engage in tourism activities in the said town.

But like other tourist destinations, visitors will be required to present a negative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (rT-PCR) test result at least 72 hours prior to their trip.

“We thank and congratulate the provincial and local government officials and tourism stakeholders of Palawan for moving on to the second phase of El Nido’s travel bubble,” Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said.

The Tourism Secretary flew again to El Nido on Thursday to discuss the reopening of the destination with Palawan local government officials, including Palawan 1st District Rep. Franz E. Alvarez, and El Nido Mayor Edna G. Lim, and with other concerned tourism stakeholders.

“The tourism industry’s reopening is gradually building momentum, especially after the news about the reopening of Boracay and the Ridge and Reef travel bubble between Baguio and the provinces of Region 1. 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,” the tourism chief added. 

She noted that due to the prevailing health crisis,  El Nido lost the opportunity to earn around P3.2 billion in visitor receipts. Moreover, 5,997 tourism workers have been displaced.

Puyat first visited El Nido in July 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 them with the DOT’s slow but sure strategy in jumpstarting domestic tourism.

“There are nine establishments for now that have obtained a Certificate of Authority to Operate (CAO) and 27 establishments with Provisional Certificate of Authority to Operate (PCAO) from the DOT and which may start accommodating guests,” she said.

After successfully complying with the protocols set by the DOT, the 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.

Under this setup, guests from Manila who have obtained negative RT-PCR test results 72 hours prior to date of travel were allowed to board the eight flights to Lio Airport via Airswift, and stay at one of the island locations of the resort chain since July.

Following the successful runs of the travel bubble strategy between Manila and El Nido, the DOT is now taking further steps to increase visitor confidence and awareness about Palawan’s preparedness in terms of medical services and facilities, emergency response protocols, as well as the sharing of the best practices employed in the Ridge and Reef Travel Corridor Plan between Baguio City and Region 1, and in Boracay Island in implementing contactless processes in contact tracing.



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