Siargao set to reopen shores to tourists
Siargao Island, the country’s surfing capital, is back in business, opening its shores to tourists starting tomorrow, Nov. 23, according to the Department of Tourism.
George Tapan
Siargao set to reopen shores to tourists
Catherine Talavera (The Philippine Star) - November 22, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Siargao Island, the Philippines’ surfing capital, is back in business, opening its shores to tourists starting tomorrow, Nov. 23, the Department of Tourism (DOT) said yesterday.

“This is encouraging news for everyone who loves the sea, especially the surfers, as Siargao reopens to travelers, subject to minimum health and safety standards,” Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said in a statement.

She cited a local executive order issued last Friday by Mayor Cecilia Ruson of General Luna, Surigao del Norte for the re-opening of one of the most beautiful island destinations in Asia.

“The people of the island will regain their livelihood and share their paradise with our kababayans once more with the same level of hospitality they have always been known for,” Puyat said.

Flights to the island would not resume until Dec. 1, but Ruson’s order gives local authorities and stakeholders ample time to set travel guidelines and put protocols in place.

With flights to Siargao resuming, the DOT said tourists can visit the country’s best-known surf spots through Sayak Airport near the barangays of Del Carmen and Heneral Luna and discover a variety of hidden attractions.

The local government of Siargao has set minimum health and safety standards, as well as COVID-19 testing requirements before tourists arrive on the island.

Tourists who would arrive at Sayak Airport in Surigao City would be required to present an e-health pass with valid identification card; a negative COVID-19 result taken within 48 hours; a five-day confirmed booking at an authorized establishment and a round-trip ticket or travel details.

“If RT-PCR (reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction) is taken more than 48 hours of departure from point of origin, a negative antigen swab will be required on the day of arrival,” the statement read.

Tourists from within Surigao del Norte, meanwhile, would be required to present an e-health pass with valid identification card, a certificate from barangay captain that the traveler is not a close contact of a COVID-positive person and confirmed booking from an accredited DOT accommodation establishment.

Hotels and resorts are required to present business permits, a certificate of authority to operate from the DOT, an e-health system registration, an e-health pass or QR code reader and new normal protocols approved by the municipal health office.

A curfew would also be implemented from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m.

Siargao has been a popular tourist destination, with its towering limestone hills, shorelines of white sands and tiny shells, mystical caves with crystal formations and clear waters.

Aside from surfing, other popular leisure activities include island hopping, kayaking, nature trekking, bird-watching and leisure swimming.

Siargao has been gaining the attention of the international travel community in recent years, with the island being cited by several global travel magazines.

In October, readers of Conde Nast Traveler voted Siargao as the 5th best island in Asia, with the magazine describing it as “feels like Bali a few decades ago.”

“Given its smaller size (a population of 200,000, compared to Bali’s four million), Siargao has remained unspoiled, remote and still relatively under the radar – despite the influx of development in recent years,” Conde Nast Traveler said.

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