Travel

Anilao Dive Resorts, Ilocos Norte Sites Reopen Doors to Tourists

The drive will be worth it.
IMAGE Yvette Fernandez
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Ilocos Norte and Anilao in Batangas open their doors this week to visitors from Luzon to give the tourism industry a much-needed boost and to give Filipinos vacation options from months of quarantine, officials said.

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Like Boracay, Baguio, and Tagaytay, the two areas are implementing strict health guidelines and adhere to the protocols set by the Department of Tourism to ensure the safety of staff, workers, and tourists against COVID-19.

Ilocos Norte

Those from Luzon hoping to see Ilocos Norte’s Paoay Church, Bangui Windmills, and have a taste of the famous Ilocos empanada can enter the region starting Oct. 15.

How many can enter and what’s open?

Ilocos Norte will allow an initial 50 tourists per day to enter. Those residing in areas under general community quarantine will be permitted to visit. The Department of Tourism will introduce a visitor management system resembling that of Baguio’s travel assistance platform for better monitoring of visitors and for contact-tracing.

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“The province’s success in managing the number of COVID-19 cases, not to mention an array of cultural sites, natural attractions, and fun activities make it really worth the long drive for people looking for a cure for their cabin fever," Tourism Sec. Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said.

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A total of 208 hotels and resorts in Ilocos Norte were granted certificates to operate. They will be regularly checked for compliance with safety standards.

"With the pandemic and the virus still among us, the DOT realizes the importance of harnessing the full potential of digital or 'contactless' technology to avoid transmissions as domestic tourism is reopened. In the event that a COVID-19 positive tourist manages to enter any of the country’s tourism destinations, contact tracing must be fast and seamless," Puyat added.

If all goes well for both visitors and tourist destinations, the country could see the reopening of other popular vacation spots with low or no COVID-19 cases in the coming weeks, Puyat said.

Visitor responsibilities

Visitors will be required to present negative RT-PCR results 48 hours before entry to the region. Travelers are encouraged to stay at home after being tested to minimize possible exposure to the virus before travel.

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Once in the region, tourists will be required to wear face masks, face shields, observe proper social distance, and disinfect frequently.

Anilao, Batangas

The popular diving destination closed its doors for three weeks but have sicne reopened after the Inter-Agency Task Force accepted their appeal to resume operations. Visitors have been staying at Anilao's diving resorts since Oct. 12, 1 p.m.

Safety protocols

Mabini Tourism officer Ian Bueno said diving resorts have been assigned a guest capacity to avoid crowding. Social distancing measures will be strictly implemented.

As opposed to the usual hotels and resorts, diving resorts can only accommodate few visitors at a time as not a lot of people are willing to pay the expensive diving equipment rental fees.

Anilao’s diving resorts previously operated for two months without any reported case of COVID-19, Bueno added.

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Contact-tracing and monitoring will be easier for Anilao, as Mabini only has one entry and exit point. Any and all visitors will be screened through the just one checkpoint, as opposed to several.

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What do I need to do before I go?

Divers and visitors must first book their accommodations with DOT-accredited establishments. Tourists must present a negative RT-PCR result that was taken at least 72 hours before travel to Anilao. A medical clearance is also required.

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Clara Rosales for Reportr
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