The municipality of El Nido is doubling down on its travel policy by imposing new requirements for entry, in an apparent bid to discourage incoming travelers taking advantage of its otherwise relaxed COVID-19 protocols.
The town, in a new travel advisory issued Tuesday (February 23), announced it will now be requiring tourists and travelers arriving in El Nido to produce upon arrival a “letter of acceptance” from the local government unit (LGU) of their final destination.
The measure, according to El Nido officials, will discourage travelers from merely using El Nido as an entry port to travel to Puerto Princesa City which has stricter travel protocols.
A local source told Palawan News in an interview that the town has become an unofficial entry point for individuals through Lio Airport, mostly Palawan locals from other municipalities or Puerto Princesa City.
“Ginagawa nang daanan para makalusot sila papasok ng mga karatig na munisipyo at hindi na nagka-quarantine. ‘Yong ginagawa naman ng iba, nagde-declare na tourist tapos magbo-book dito, hindi naman required ang ticket pabalik. Basta nakalagay lang sa itinerary kung saan ka naka-book na accredited hotel, ‘yon lang ang nire-require,” the source said.
“Maraming instances na may mga nakakalusot galing sa ibang probinsya, hindi na rin nate-trace ng munisipyo nila. Halimbawa, taga-Brooke’s Point ka, dumaan ka ng El Nido. ‘Di na mate-trace ng municipality of Brooke’s Point kung galing ka pala ng Manila,” the source added.
So far no one has been apprehended for utilizing this loophole, but it has become an open secret among locals, according to the source.
El Nido currently only requires a letter of acceptance from the El Nido mayor, an itinerary, and a negative RT-PCR test result valid in the last 48 hours, and utilizes less stringent protocols to encourage tourism, which is the town’s main source of income.
“Ang kagandahan nga lang ay kumikita naman ang mga hotel. Kasi nga ang iba nilalagay nila na two days sila doon para lang mailagay sa itinerary nila,” the source added.