The Department of Tourism (DOT) welcomes the decision of the Municipal Government of El Nido to ease its travel restrictions starting October 30, allowing tourists to enter the island under a test-before-travel policy.
“We thank and congratulate the provincial and local government officials and tourism stakeholders of Palawan for moving on to the second phase of El Nido’s travel bubble. Tourists must undergo RT-PCR test and get their negative test results at least 72 hours prior to their trip,” Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said during the DOT’s October 23 meeting with Palawan local government officials including Palawan 1st District Rep. Franz E. Alvarez, and El Nido Mayor Edna G. Lim, and tourism stakeholders to finalize details of the expansion of the province’s travel bubble.
“The tourism industry’s reopening is gradually building momentum, especially after the news about the re-opening of Boracay and the Ridge and Reef travel bubble between Baguio and the provinces of Region 1. Considering that Palawan’s El Nido has been consistently voted as the world’s best island, I would also like El Nido to be seen as part of the industry’s rebirth,” added Puyat.
Puyat noted that the on-going COVID-19 pandemic has caused El Nido Php 3.2 billion in visitor receipts, displacing 5,997 of its tourism workers.
As early as July, the tourism chief visited El Nido to conduct inspections among tourism establishments to ensure their compliance to the DOT’s health and safety guidelines. She also consulted local leaders and stakeholders to align with the DOT’s slow but sure strategy in jumpstarting domestic tourism.
“There are nine (9) establishments for now that have obtained a Certificate of Authority to Operate (CAO) and 27 establishments with Provisional Certificate of Authority to Operate (PCAO) from the DOT and which may start accommodating guests,” Puyat said.
After successfully complying with the protocols set by the DOT, the El Nido Resorts was the first tourism establishment in Palawan to obtain a CAO and to reopen its doors to tourists from outside the province through the travel bubble strategy. Under this set-up, guests from Manila that have obtained a negative RT-PCR test result 72 hours prior to date of travel were allowed to board the 8 flights to Lio Airport via Airswift, and stay at one of the island locations of the resort chain since July.
Puyat said that following successful runs of the travel bubble strategy between Manila and El Nido, the DOT is now taking further steps to increase visitor confidence and awareness about Palawan’s preparedness in terms of medical services and facilities, as well as emergency response protocols, sharing the best practices employed in the Ridge and Reef Travel Corridor Plan between Baguio City and Region 1, and in Boracay Island in implementing contactless processes in contact tracing.