LAOAG CITY – The province of Ilocos Norte is getting ready to reopen its doors to tourists from nearby provinces but in a highly regulated manner.
Aianree Raquel, provincial tourism officer of Ilocos Norte, said in a phone interview on Wednesday that Baguio City, La Union, Pangasinan, Ilocos Sur, and Ilocos Norte through their local chief executives have committed to reopen the tourism corridor in Northern Luzon starting September 21.
“Following a series of consultation meetings with the five local government units, our governors committed to open our tourism sites but we must all adhere to the prescribed guidelines which are now being finalized,” he said.
By next week, Ilocos Norte will be hosting a technical working group represented by tourism officers from Region 1 to work out all details to help stir Ilocos Norte’s economic stagnation caused by the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
Based on the proposed guidelines, tourists from nearby provinces are required to book, pre-register and set their travel itinerary using Stay IN (Ilocos Norte) Tourist Registration System, a web-based tourist registration and contact tracing system which was already pilot-tested in the province last July 29 when the Provincial Tourism Office hosted a pop-up bazaar at the provincial capitol.
A visitors’ assistance center will also be set up at the Badoc and Pagudpud gateways, including the Laoag International Airport, but the arrival and processing of tourists will be limited from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. only.
All tourists are required to secure a travel authority, medical certificate, accomplish a health declaration form not earlier than 48 hours before departure for Ilocos Norte using the Stay IN app, and show a negative rapid antigen test within 48 hours before arrival at the border checkpoint. Said original documents and IDs must be presented at the border for verification.
To date, there are 125 accommodation establishments in the province which have already secured a special permit to operate from the provincial government of Ilocos Norte as well as a certificate of authority to operate from the Department of Tourism.
Of the 125 accommodation establishments, there are 103 which are assigned for leisure, 22 for Authorized Persons Outside Residence and 10 for quarantine purposes.
In partnership with travel agents, Raquel added that they have prepared sample tour packages which may last for at least five days up to 30 days for visitors to choose from.
When asked if there will be an expected increase in tourism fees and charges, Raquel said “Covid rates” may apply which means there will be a slight increase to cover health and sanitation maintenance, among others. (PNA)