El Nido, Palawan. | PNA image file


The pilot travel bubble in Palawan since July 2020 had been a “success”, a ranking Department of Tourism (DOT) executive said, days before the island expands the program to more areas in El Nido.

“(It is) successful as we are able to enter and exit Palawan having an assured feeling of safety and still healthy. Likewise, the process is also an assessment ground to see flaws and make recommendations to further improve the system,” DOT MIMAROPA regional director Christopher Morales said in an interview.

To date, only El Nido Resorts — the Pangulasian Island Resort & Spa, Lagen Island Resort, and Miniloc Island Resort — are allowed to accept tourists from Metro Manila under the travel bubble, a travel concept introduced during the pandemic to lessen the risk of virus transmission while an area slowly resumes its economic activities.

The number of El Nido resorts is expected to rise beginning October 30 to include tourism establishments located in the town proper, Morales said.

But he declined to provide more details. “I cannot pre-empt the reopening date of El Nido. All I can say is that we are still ironing out some details.”

Based on data provided by the agency, about eight flights landed in Palawan from Manila since select El Nido resorts started accepting tourists from NCR last July 2020. Some 457 domestic tourists booked in the said establishments.

With the success of the Palawan travel bubble, Morales is optimistic this could be replicated in other destinations in Mimaropa.

Mimaropa or Region 4-B is composed of Occidental and Oriental Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, and Palawan, known for its pristine beaches, rich marine biodiversity, and top-rated towns often voted by prominent travel magazines abroad.

The region is also home to the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the center of the Sulu Sea and covers the Tubbataha and Jessie Beazley Reefs.

At present, only the following destinations are open to select tourists in the region:


Suguicay Island Resort in Bulalacao, Oriental Mindoro. | Photo by Joyce Ann L. Rocamora


Oriental Mindoro

– Bato Creek (to residents of the municipality)
– Pocanil Rock Formation/ Beach (to residents of the Province)
– Bagong Sikat Falls (to residents of the Province)
– Buyayao Island (to residents of the Province)
– Suguicay Island (to residents of the Province)
– Target Island (to residents of the Province)
– Silad Island (to residents of the Province)
– Aslom Island (to residents of the Province)
– Balatasan Beach (to residents of the Province)
– Muelle Bay Heritage Park, PHESI Windmill, Mangrove Conservation Area, Beaches, Snorkeling and diving sites, Sabang, White Beach, Extreme Adventure (open to tourists from National Capital Region and modified general community quarantine areas provided they secure a negative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction or RT-PCR result and book at a DOT-accredited resort)

Occidental Mindoro
– Apo Reef Natural Park (to residents of the Province)
– Bukal Spring in Brgy. Nicolas (to residents of the Municipality)
– Tayamaan Beach & Isla de Oro Lagoon (to residents of the Province)

Marinduque (to residents of the province)
– Torrijos White Beach at Barangay Poctoy
– Basud Hidden Falls at Barangay Payanas;
– Mt. Malindis (Makulilis Peak and Rockies at Barangay Dampulan
– Private beach and nature resorts

– Bacuit Bay (to residents of the Municipality)
– Hundred Caves, Sabang Beach, Sabang Falls, Sabang Mangrove Paddleboat Tour (to residents of City/Municipality)
– Long Beach and Port Barton (to residents of the Province)


Binucot Beach in Ferrol, Romblon. | Image by Joyce Ann L. Rocamora


– Beaches, Natural pool (to residents of City/Municipality)
– Binucot Beach (to residents of the Province)
– Cresta De Gallo (to residents of the Province)
– Falls, beaches, caves (to residents of the Province)

“We have been continuously talking with our LGUs to think about opening their doors to leisure travel with an emphasis on health and safety. We always say they can open gradually. We wanted if possible that all areas be opened, but again, we should be assured that all health protocols are in place and we are not compromising the health of any individuals,” Morales said. (PNA)