VIGAN CITY, Oct. 23 (PIA) - Do you miss walking down Calle Crisologo and feeling like you've been transported to another time?
This major tourist magnet and other must-see sights in Ilocos Sur, where nature and history collide, will soon be reopened for tourists from entire Luzon to visit and enjoy amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
The provincial government of Ilocos Sur has announced that it is reopening its tourism to visitors from Luzon starting November 15.
Governor Ryan Luis Singson said, "To streamline with the other provinces in the region, Ilocos Sur will also reopen its doors to Luzon tourists once systems and guidelines are set in place by the Department of Tourism and the Ilocos Sur COVID-19 Task Force."
"This aims to relieve our fellow Ilocos Surians in the tourism sector like the kutcheros (carriage drivers), tour guides and many others from financial blow inflicted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Rest assured, we will do it slowly but surely, with strict consideration of the minimum health standard protocols," he said.
In a statement, the Department of Tourism (DOT) welcomed the decision of Governor Singson to reopen the province following the growing interest from tourists from the National Capital Region during the launch of the Reef and Ridge traveler corridor.
The DOT also lauded Governor Singson's initiative to give back jobs to the tourism workforce from the kutcheros to the waiters, the souvenir shops, to the tour guides through the slow but sure reopening of the province.
Ilocos Sur first welcomed back tourists earlier this month through the Ridge and Reef travel corridor with Baguio City and Ilocos Region including the provinces of La Union, Pangasinan, and Ilocos Norte.
With this development, prospective tourists may now visit some of the popular destinations in the province, such as the Vigan Heritage Village and Calle Crisologo, Plaza Salcedo Dancing Fountain, Bantay Bell Tower, Sta. Maria Church and Plaza Burgos.
To date, Ilocos Sur is the only province in the Ilocos Region which is free from COVID-19.
Meanwhile, during the Laging Handa Network Briefing News aired on Tuesday, Malaybalay City, Bukidnon Vice Mayor Jay Warren Pabillaran said the re-opening of tourism in their province must be decided on by the task force and coordinated to the national government because "we cannot just decide on our own without permission."
"But in the local setting, it is up to the decision of the policy-making body which is the task force kung i-open talaga. But the city council already has a development plan with respect to tourism...Only time will tell whether to open the tourism industry in Malaybalay. Everything has been in place, road network is ongoing. It's up to the situation kung puwede na," Pabillaran said.
The Laging Handa Network Briefing News airs from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. at the Radyo Pilipinas on Mondays to Fridays hosted by Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Martin Andanar.
The program can also be viewed at the Philippine Information Agency's regional and provincial Facebook pages around the country. (JCR/AMB/PIA Ilocos Sur)