Puerto Princesa opens to more domestic tourists; COVID-19 tests still required
This undated file photo from before the pandemic shows the entrance to the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park.
File photo

Puerto Princesa opens to more domestic tourists; COVID-19 tests still required

Rosette Adel (Philstar.com) - March 4, 2021 - 9:47pm

MANILA, Philippines — Puerto Princesa City, known for its UNESCO World Heritage site Underground River, has reopened to more domestic tourists this month with minimum health and safety standards in place, according to the Department of Tourism.

The city expanded the reopening of its attraction to local tourists last March 1. The tourist destination was opened last December 8 but only for Palawan residents.

The reopening came days after the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases eased the travel requirements and allowed uniform travel protocols.

COVID-19 testing still required

Despite this, PPC’s Resolution 29 said visitors of the city are still required to submit negative RT-PCTR (real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction) test result that should be emailed by the Department of Health-accredited testing facility to the City’s Incident Management team. The COVID-19 test must be taken within 48 hours of travel.

The city requires a confirmed booking from a DOT-accredited accommodation establishment and travel agency for guided tours.

There are 73 tourism establishment and service providers in the city accredited by the DOT Region 4B (Mimaropa) as of February 15. Majority of the accredited service providers are tour guides.

StaySafe app required

Aside from COVID-19 testing and confirmed booking, the city also mandated the use of contact tracing application StaySafe.ph system.

In July last year, Palawan Gov. Jose Alvarez said he was "hesitant" to reopen PPC international airport due to confirmed cases in the city.

PPC now only has three active COVID-19 cases after 12 cases which reportedly recovered recently.

Meanwhile, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat welcomed the reopening of the city to more local tourists.

“We are keen to discover and develop other tourism products to encourage visitors to stay longer or to entice repeat visits. We have great confidence in the city’s future as there is vast potential to further develop its nature-based, farm, and sun and beach tourism products,” she said.

The DOT said it will continue to “set the seal on the health and safety protocols in the whole tourism value chain in PPC, including accommodation establishments, restaurants, and tourist sites, among others.”

Displaced workers to be given aid

Puyat assured the displaced workers that they will also be given financial aid through the DOT and the Department of Labor and Employment’s Cash Assistance Program, as mandated under the Bayanihan 2.

“6,846 workers in Palawan have received assistance amounting to P34,230,000 through the program,” she said.

As of March 2, the DOT Region 4B has endorsed a total of 20,621 members/ workers in the region.

Puyat said the she is hopeful that more Palaweños can benefit from the program.

“Thank you for the trust you have placed in the DOT as we continue to seek ways to help everyone through this difficult time,” the tourism chief said.

PPC shares 50% of the tourist arrivals in Palawan and in the region.

In 2020, a total of 157,051 visited Palawan with 71,899 of which visiting PPC.

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