Tourism establishments in San Vicente are struggling to comply with the Department of Tourism’s (DOT) permitting requirements that will allow them to resume operations amidst the ongoing pandemic.

The problematic internet connection in the town, in particular, has made it difficult for establishments to enable a virtual inspection by the DOT of their establishment, a requirement before they are issued a Certificate of Authority to Operate (CATO).

TIEZA administrator Engr. Bernardo Alarilla, in an interview with Palawan News on Friday, said many local tourism establishments have been applying for CATO but are hindered by their internet connectivity issues.

“Marami naman ang nag-apply para sa CATO. Ongoing pa rin ang mga application nila online. ‘Yon nga lang, dahil kasi may mga ibang property na hirap sa Internet, napapatagal talaga ang proceso. Virtual kasi ang inspection,” Alarilla said.

For those without internet connection, he said that the Municipal Tourism Office (MTO) and TIEZA had been deputized by the DOT to conduct the inspection by taking videos of the property

“Ang Municipal Tourism Office (MTO) at ang TIEZA rito ay na-deputize na ng DOT para mag-conduct ng inspection by taking videos of the property, para sa mga property na hirap talaga sa Internet,” Alarilla said.

To date, only two local establishments in San Vicente have completed the requirements and have been issued a CATO that allows them to operate.

Meanwhile, tourism officials warned other establishments who were operating with a CATO permit, by issuing an advisory.

TIEZA administrator Engr. Bernardo Alarilla told Palawan News Friday (September 18) that the advisory was issued after their office received reports of establishments accepting guests despite not having secured a Certificate of Authority to Operate (CATO) or its provisional counterpart.

“Hindi ko na babanggitin ang mga pangalan nila, pero naka-receive kasi kami na may mga tumatanggap ng mga guests kahit wala pang CATO o ‘yong Provisional CATO,” he said.

According to Alarilla, only two establishments in San Vicente were granted CATOs, namely, Farmbelle Cottages and Club Agutaya Resort.

Since June, the DOT required all tourism establishments to apply for a Certificate of Authority to Operate (CATO) and to undergo virtual inspections before reopening to customers amidst the ongoing pandemic. Aside from the inspections, establishments are also urged to join webinars and online training to comply with minimum health and safety protocols.