Ilocos Norte to reopen to Luzon tourists on October 15

Rosette Adel - Philstar.com
Ilocos Norte to reopen to Luzon tourists on October 15
This 2019 file photo shows Ilocos Norte's Bangui Wind Farm.
Ilocos Norte Tourism / Facebook

MANILA, Philippines – After Boracay, Ilocos Norte government announced that it would open its borders to local travelers from Luzon starting October 15.

On Thursday, Ilocos Norte Gov. Matthew Marcos Manotoc said the province – known to tourists for its wind farm, baroque architecture, sand dunes adventure and breath-taking panoramic views –  is ready to welcome visitors from Luzon, even those coming from areas that are under general community quarantine.

This, after seven months of closure to tourists since the declaration of enhanced community quarantine across Luzon.

Ilocos Norte only set an initial target number of 50 tourists per day in a bid to prevent COVID-19 spread.

Manotoc said the province reopened the tourism corridor in Northern Luzon last Monday.

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat welcomed the slated reopening and said the Department of Tourism will introduce a visitor management system to the province, similar to Baguio City’s Visitor Information and Travel Assistance or VIS.I.T.A platform it provided to Baguio City to monitor the movements of local tourists.

The DOT’s marketing arm, Tourism Promotions Board, earlier provided the tourist monitoring platform to Baguio City.

“We’re elated with the decision of Governor Manotoc to finally welcome visitors from Luzon to Ilocos Norte, even those coming from areas that are still under general community quarantine (GCQ). The province’s success in managing the number of COVID-19 cases, not to mention an array of cultural sites, natural attractions, and fun activities make it really worth the long drive for people looking for a cure for their cabin fever," Puyat said in a statement.

"With the pandemic and the virus still among us, the DOT realizes the importance of harnessing the full potential of digital or 'contactless' technology to avoid transmissions as domestic tourism is reopened. In the event that a COVID-19 positive tourist manages to enter any of the country’s tourism destinations, contact tracing must be fast and seamless," she also said.

The DOT earlier said that accommodation establishments must secure a Certificate of Authority to Operate before resuming business.

Puyat said that as of Friday, a total of 208 hotels were granted CAOs.

“Through our Regional Office, these establishments will be regularly checked for compliance with health and safety standards," she added.

The tourism chief also reminded the tourists who are planning to visit the province to follow the province’s protocols for travelers.

According to Puyat, just like in Boracay island, a negative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction or RT-PCR result within 48 hours before entry to the region is required.

“We urge travelers to stay at home from the time you undergo the required RT-PCR test up until the schedule of travel as a precaution. Wear your masks, face shields and practice physical distancing when in public," she said.

Puyat stressed that the success of the tourism corridor plans being explored the country will depend on the synergy between the government, the private sector, tourists, and residents.

“The sooner we achieve this locally, the sooner we can hope to carry out a similar strategy with other countries with low or no COVID-19 cases, " she said.

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