REOPENING FOR TOURISM. Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat and Palawan Governor Jose Alvarez meet in El Nido on Friday (July 3, 2020) to discuss Palawan's readiness to resume tourism activities. Romulo-Puyat said the DOT wants to restart tourism in the province but wants the process to be "slow but sure". (Photo courtesy of the Department of Tourism)

Palawan is targeting the resumption of tourism activities in the towns of El Nido, Coron, and San Vicente once safety and health protocols have been set in place in the province.

There is no specific date yet as to when the three municipalities will start accepting travelers, but Tourism chief Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said a “dry run” will start in El Nido resorts “as soon as possible”.

“Sa Coron, pag-uusapan pa with the constituents kung kailan, sa San Vicente ganoon din pag-uusapan pa,” she said in a virtual presser following a consultative meeting with the provincial government of Palawan on Friday.

Romulo-Puyat explained that during the dry run, tourists coming from areas under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) would need to undergo a reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test at their own expense.

If a tourist is departing from Clark International Airport, the negative test result from any DOH-approved hospitals needs to be presented “before they travel”.

Romulo-Puyat said the Department of Tourism (DOT) wants to restart leisure activities in the province but wants the process to be “slow and sure”.

This said she assured that the agency will closely work with the provincial government to ensure health and safety regulations will be implemented.

“Gusto muna nating mag-dry run muna to make sure. I’m very proud to say that El Nido is COVID-free, in Coron, there are three asymptomatic [patients] who all recovered, and in San Vicente, there is one who already recovered also — we can say that the three are COVID-19-free and they are ready,” she said.

Since March, the pandemic has cost the three tourist destinations around PHP3.1 billion in tourism receipts and displaced some 14,000 tourism workers.

Palawan Governor Jose Alvarez echoed Romulo-Puyat’s sentiments, adding there would be “selective, targetted, and prioritized” tourism in the three municipalities.

“I hope that we have clarified our stand that there is no more such thing as mass tourism, so in the coming months, somehow we will have to open slowly and safely,” he said.

Also in the meeting were El Nido Mayor Edna Lim, Coron Mayor Mario Reyes, San Vicente Mayor Amy Alvarez, 1st District Representative Franz Alvarez, and 3rd District Rep. Gil Acosta. (PNA)