Panglao Island. (Photo courtesy of the Department of Tourism)

MANILA – Bohol’s Panglao Island is planning to reopen its shores to tourists in the fourth quarter of 2020, once its local government unit (LGU) finalizes preparations for health and safety protocols, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said.

“As of now, the target is the last quarter of the year as long as (the tourists are) from MGCQ (modified general community quarantine) areas. (It’s a) last quarter opening but Panglao Island only,” Romulo-Puyat told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) in a text message.

The announcement came after her consultative meeting with the Bohol LGU and Interior Secretary Eduardo Año on Friday.

Romulo-Puyat also shared that the Department of Tourism (DOT) has been discussing a possible travel corridor with countries with low cases of the coronavirus disease 2019.

“We’ve been having informal talks together with the Department of Foreign Affairs, with Korea, with Japan but, of course, everything is fluid. We’ve already been talking that once travel restrictions have been lifted, we can already talk about direct flights,” she said.

In a virtual presser, Bohol Governor Arthur Yap said all tourism establishments that wish to reopen would be required to secure an Ultimate Bohol Experience (UBE) Seal on top of DOT’s accreditation.

This Bohol-specific seal would cover an establishment’s compliance with the province’s sewage treatment plant requirements and carrying capacity, even the use of renewable energy.

“We want to check their (energy) footprint because that is what Bohol is all about. It’s about sustainable eco-agri-tourism so we want to protect our patrimony to make sure that this is going to be here for ages to come. I think it is a surmountable requirement,” Yap said, referring to the soon-to-be-required UBE accreditation. (PNA)