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EL NIDO, Palawan — Most tourism establishments here have yet to comply with new operating permits required by the Department of Tourism (DoT) that will allow them to re-open their businesses under a “new normal” COVID-19 environment.

Out of an estimated 300 tourist accommodations in the town, official records showed that as of August 7, only 17 establishments have secured a Certificate of Authority to Operate (CATO) from the DoT.

The tourism department is piloting the reopening of tourism in El Nido and has identified regulatory measures that, among others, require establishments to incorporate health safety measures in their operations. These include limiting occupancy capacity for social or physical distancing, and maintaining sanitation protocols in establishments.

Municipal tourism officer Arvin Acosta, in an interview with Palawan News, observed that most local establishments are concerned about the implication of the new regulations on their operations and have adopted a wait-and-see attitude.

“Iilan lang din pa ang nagre-respond kasi nag-aagam-agam pa ang mga turista bumiyahe. Iniisip pa nila (establishments) if kaya ba i-cover ng operating expenses nila if they will operate although may iilan siguro on process pa ang kanilang aplikasyon,“ Acosta said.


Municipal Tourism Office in El Nido.

“We have informed them through their emails, announcements in our official page at tumatawag din po kami sa lahat ng mga registered hotels dito sa El Nido,” he added.

Acosta said they have advised thr town’s accommodations to comply with the DOT requirement before accepting any reservations to avoid sanctions.

He said their office is presently assisting CATO applicants, including the facilitation of DOT virtual inspections.

The 17 accommodations that have so far been granted CATO permits include: Huni Lio Resort, Hotel Covo, Balai Adlao, Casa Kalaw, Lagen Island Resort, Maremegmeg Resort, Seda Lio, Charlie’s El Nido, Stunning Republic Beach Resort, Frendz Hostel, Layang Layang Home Inn, Moringa El Nido Philippines Inc., El Nido Coco Resort, APT the Apartments in El Nido and Bulskamp Inn.

“Nasa new normal na tayo and everyone’s safety is most important. Remind lang namin ang mga guests to book your future stays in accomodation or establishments with Certificate of Authority To Operate (CATO) issued by the DOT. This certification will help assure them (guests) the compliance to the proper protocols prescribed by the government. Dito, makikita ng DOT ‘yong kahandaan for new normal in terms of their facilities including their staff if they follow the safety protocol,“ Acosta said.