Tourism chief eyes Palawan as next destination to be reopened to tourists

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 26) —The Department of Tourism is setting its sight on Palawan as the next attraction that will be reopened to local tourists after Boracay.

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat told a briefing that she will fly to the paradise island next week to talk to Governor Jose Alvarez regarding health protocols that will be enforced for tourism activities in the province — which is home to lagoons, white-sand beaches and other nature reserves.

Alvarez said on Thursday that Palawan is ready to welcome back tourists, adding that it is just waiting for the national government's go signal.

The official said the Mimaropa province had lost ₱150 billion in tourism revenues due to travel restrictions in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

Three world-renowed tourist attractions are found in Palawan: El Nido, Coron and the Subterranean Underground River in Puerto Princesa.

Romulo-Puyat said she will also meet with Governor Arthur Yap ‘one of these days’ as the island province of Bohol is also ‘being prepared’ for reopening once it shifts to modified general community quarantine or MGCQ.

Under the COVID-19 inter-agency task force guidelines, tourism businesses under MGCQ could accept tourists, but are limited to a 50 percent capacity, subject to the approval of local governments.

Areas under modified GCQ face more relaxed restrictions, as these are considered at low risk of a localized COVID-19 outbreak.

“Si Governor Arthur Yap, bibisitahin ko na rin one of these days kasi pini-prepare narin namin under MGCQ ang Bohol," Romulo-Puyat said.

[Translation: I will visit Governor Arthur Yap one of these days because we are preparing to place Bohol under MGCQ.]

The first famous attraction that reopened to tourists was Boracay, but only those from within the region could enter the island.

The tourism chief said that Boracay Island is only accommodating guests from Western Visayas to ensure a ‘slow but sure’ revival of tourism.