VIGAN CITY, Nov. 30 (PIA) - The provincial government of Ilocos Sur and the Department of Tourism (DOT) officially launched in a ceremony held at the Calle Crisologo here on November 20 the expanded Ridge and Reef Travel Corridor, which reopened the doors of the province for tourists from entire Luzon.
To help relieve those in the tourism sector from financial blow inflicted by the COVID-19 pandemic, Ilocos Sur has reopened its tourism to visitors from Luzon beginning on November 15 and is doing it slowly but surely, with strict consideration of the minimum health standard protocols.
Governor Ryan Luis Singson said, "It was a hard decision, how to keep Ilocos Sur safe or how to bounce back and revive our economy? So, I had to balance, will we continue with this lockdown na hindi po magbubukas ang ekonomiya natin? Dadagdagan pa ba po natin 'yong 15,000 na mawawalan ng trabaho? Dadagdagan pa ba natin ang mga hotels na nagsasara?"
"Naiitindihan ko ho yong takot ng ating mga kababayan na magkaoutbreak dito sa ating probinsya. But we cannot be selfish. We have to look at other people na nahihirapan na, 'yong nawalan ng trabaho. It's a risk that we have to take, but I think it's a good risk kasi nakikita ko naman plantsado na lahat ng health protocols," Governor Singson said.
He added, "Kayang kaya po natin ito basta magtulungan tayo. Kaya nga 'yong sinasabi nila na We Heal As One, totoo po yan. Kung magtutulungan tayo, we can achieve anything and we will bring back the good old days of Ilocos Sur dahil nagtutulungan po tayong lahat. Hayaan nyo ho, gagawin po namin ang lahat para maging safe ang ating probinsya at ibalik ang sigla ng ating ekonomiya."
DOT in the Ilocos Regional Director Jeff Ortega also shared, "Tayo rito sa Region 1, hindi naman tayo basta basta nagpapatalo.We are known for being resilient, hardworking and creative. The bad foe we are facing now because of COVID-19 is just temporary and I know together, we can turn this experience as a motivational force to bounce back and move further ahead."
Likewise, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said, "These are exciting times for the Philippine tourism industry which after many difficult months is finally seeing rays of hope and a renewed optimism for brighter days ahead."
"We look forward to working closely with Governor Singson and the provincial government in further developing tourism, recalibrating their product portfolio and building the capability of our stakeholders and frontliners as well," Secretary Puyat said.
A maximum of 50 visitors per day will be allowed entry to ensure effective crowd control and the strict implementation of the health and safety protocols that begin at the borders of the province in the municipalities of Tagudin and Sinait, where the triage testing centers are located.
According to DOT, upon arrival at the border, tourists must present the following: a negative result for RT-PCR test taken within 48 hours before travel; a digital or printed SafePass QR Code accessible via https://tinyurl.com/ SafePassSMS; a confirmed itinerary from a DOT-accredited tour and travel agency; a confirmed booking from a DOT-accredited accommodation establishment (AE); a confirmed booking from a DOT-accredited tourist transport if not using a private vehicle; and a government-issued ID. Upon arrival, the guest will be required to take an antigen test at the Ilocos Sur Tourist Triage and Assistance Center, valid for a three-day itinerary.
Tourists who intend to stay more than three days must take another antigen test on their fourth day, valid for another three-day stay.
"These will be followed stringently, but I assure everyone that these travel requisites will be worth the beauty and wonders when you visit Ilocos Sur. The province abounds with multiple attractions sure to captivate the imagination of all types of travelers, from history buffs to foodies, from adventure seekers to nature enthusiasts, from art aficionados to beach lovers," enthused Puyat.
Tourists shall use only identified DOT-accredited stopovers such as Marsha's Delicacies in Bantay, JV & LV Pasalubong Center in Candon, Petron in Sto. Domingo, San Esteban Tourism and Youth Development Center in San Esteban for meals and personal necessities.
At least 18 tourist destinations are now allowed to reopen in the province. These include the Heritage Village in Calle Crisologo, Ilocos Sur Adventure Zone, Caniaw Heritage and Forest Park, Nuestra Senora De La Asuncion Church, Pinsal Falls, Moro Watch Tower, Hidden Garden, Baluarte Zoo, and the Ilocos Sur Dancing Fountain. Ten diving spots in different barangays will likewise be opened to the public.
For travel updates to Ilocos Sur, kindly visit the Sure Ilocos Sur Facebook Page at https://www.facebook.com/ SureIlocosSur/
Ilocos Sur first welcomed back tourists in October through the Ridge and Reef travel corridor with Baguio City and Ilocos Region including the provinces of La Union, Pangasinan, and Ilocos Norte. (JCR/AMB/PIA Ilocos Sur)