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Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat was among the first guests of Ilocos Sur as the province reopened to visitors, this time including those from Metro Manila.
The tourism chief was the guest of honor in a ceremony that officially launched the expanded Ridge and Reef Travel Corridor on Friday.
Also in attendance were Ilocos Sur Governor Ryan Luis Singson, Vigan City Mayor Juan Carlo Medina, and other provincial leaders.
“We are making another big leap forward with the reopening of Ilocos Sur to tourists from the rest of Luzon," she said.
"Staying true to our strategy of 'slowly but surely' reopening our destinations, we have taken careful steps to ensure that the public’s health and safety continue (to be) a priority in this great undertaking,” Puyat said.
She expressed support for the strengthening of Ilocos Sur's capacity building programs for both the local government unit and the tourism stakeholders, and for redefining the province's old and new tourism products geared towards culture and heritage.
“As the Covid-19 pandemic impacted our various regions in different ways, there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution to how we could restart tourism. We have to find a balance between our mandate to develop tourism and promote travel, and to safeguard the health and wellbeing of tourists, stakeholders, tourism workers, and local communities. The opening of Ilocos Sur and its various destinations conforms with this balance, as exemplified by the Local Government’s issuance of an Executive Order on health and safety guidelines,” she added.
“We look forward to working closely with Governor Ryan Singson and the Provincial Government in further developing tourism, recalibrating their product portfolio, and building the capability of our stakeholders and front-liners as well,” she said.
A maximum of 50 visitors per day will be allowed entry to ensure effective crowd control and the strict implementation of the health and safety protocols that begin at the borders of the province in the municipalities of Tagudin and Sinait, where the triage testing centers are located.
Upon arrival at the border, tourists must present the following: a negative result for RT-PCR test taken within 48 hours before travel; a digital or printed SafePass QR Code accessible via https://tinyurl.com/SafePassSMS; a confirmed itinerary from a DOT-accredited tour and travel agency; a confirmed booking from a DOT-accredited accommodation establishment (AE); a confirmed booking from a DOT-accredited tourist transport if not using a private vehicle; and a government-issued ID.
Upon arrival, the guest will be required to take an antigen test at the Ilocos Sur Tourist Triage and Assistance Center, valid for a three-day itinerary.
Tourists who intend to stay more than three days must take another antigen test on their fourth day, valid for another three-day stay.
“These will be followed stringently, but I assure everyone that these travel requisites will be worth the beauty and wonders when you visit Ilocos Sur. The province abounds with multiple attractions sure to captivate the imagination of all types of travelers, from history buffs to foodies, from adventure seekers to nature enthusiasts, from art aficionados to beach lovers,” Romulo-Puyat said.
Tourists shall use only identified DOT-accredited stopovers such as Marsha's Delicacies in Bantay, JV & LV Pasalubong Center in Candon, Petron in Sto. Domingo, San Esteban Tourism and Youth Development Center in San Esteban for meals and personal necessities.
At least 18 tourist destinations are now allowed to reopen in the province. These include the Heritage Village in Calle Crisologo, Ilocos Sur Adventure Zone, Caniaw Heritage, and Forest Park, Nuestra Senora De La Asuncion Church, Pinsal Falls, Moro Watch Tower, Hidden Garden, Baluarte Zoo, and the Ilocos Sur Dancing Fountain. Ten diving spots in different barangays will likewise be opened to the public.
As of November 19, the DOT-Region 1 has given 134 accommodation establishments in Ilocos Sur the green light to operate: 39 were issued Certificates of Authority to Operate (CAO) while 95 were granted Provisional Certificates of Authority to Operate (PCAO).
For travel updates to Ilocos Sur, kindly visit the Sure Ilocos Sur Facebook Page at https://www.facebook.com/SureIlocosSur/