More tourists from Luzon, including those from Metro Manila, may now visit destinations in Ilocos Sur after the Department of Tourism (DoT) and the provincial government launched Friday the expanded Ridge and Reef Travel Corridor in the province.
“We are making another big leap forward with the reopening of Ilocos Sur to tourists from the rest of Luzon. Staying true to our strategy of ‘slowly but surely’ reopening our destinations, we have taken careful steps to ensure that the public’s health and safety continues to be the priority in this great undertaking,” said Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, who was guest of honor in the ceremony for the expanded Ridge and Reef Travel Corridor last Friday.
Also present were Ilocos Sur Gov. Ryan Luis Singson, Vigan City Mayor Juan Carlo Medina, and other provincial leaders.
“As the COVID-19 pandemic impacted our various regions in different ways, there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution to how we could restart tourism. We have to find a balance between our mandate to develop tourism and promote travel, and to safeguard the health and wellbeing of tourists, stakeholders, tourism workers, and local communities,” Puyat said.
“The opening of Ilocos Sur and its various destinations conforms with this balance, as exemplified by the local government’s issuance of an executive order on health and safety guidelines,” she added.
The provincial government will allow the entry of only a maximum of 50 visitors per day to ensure effective crowd control and the strict implementation of the health and safety protocols. Tourist triage and assistance centers are located at the borders of the province in Tagudin in the south and Sinait in the north.
Upon arrival, tourists must present a negative result for RT-PCR test taken within 48 hours before travel and a digital or printed SafePass QR Code, which can obtained via https://tinyurl.com/SafePassSMS; and a government-issued ID.
They must also show a confirmed itinerary from a DoT-accredited tour and travel agency and a confirmed booking from a DoT-accredited accommodation establishment (AE).
Tourists not using a private vehicle must also secure and present a confirmed booking from a DoT-accredited tourist transport.
Upon arrival at the border, the guest will be required to take an antigen test, which will be valid for a three-day itinerary.
Those who plan to stay more than three days must take another antigen test on their fourth day, extending their allowable stay for another three days.
“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,” Puyat said.
At least 18 tourist destinations have been reopened in the province, including the popular Heritage Village on Calle Crisologo in Vigan City, Ilocos Sur Adventure Zone in Bantay, Caniaw Heritage and Forest Park in Bantay, Nuestra Senora de La Asuncion Church in Sta. Maria, Pinsal Falls in Sta. Maria, Moro Watch Tower, Hidden Garden in Vigan, Baluarte Zoo in Vigan, and the Ilocos Sur Dancing Fountain in front of the provincial capitol and near the St. Paul Metropolitan Cathedral in Vigan.
Ten diving spots in different barangays will likewise be opened to the public.
For meals and personal necessities, tourists shall only go to identified DoT-accredited stopovers such as Marsha’s Delicacies in Bantay, JV & LV Pasalubong Center in Candon City, Petron in Sto. Domingo, and San Esteban Tourism and Youth Development Center in San Esteban.
As of Nov. 19, 134 accommodation establishments in Ilocos Sur have been given the green light to operate.Thirty-nine were issued Certificates of Authority to Operate (CAO) while 95 were granted Provisional Certificates of Authority to Operate (PCAO).
Ilocos Sur first welcomed tourists in October through the Ridge and Reef travel corridor with Baguio City and La Union, Pangasinan, and Ilocos Norte. Baguio and Ilocos Norte have earlier allowed the entry of tourists from the rest of Luzon.
For travel updates to Ilocos Sur, visit the Sure Ilocos Sur Facebook Page at https://www.facebook.com/SureIlocosSur/.