By Jerry Alcayde
PUERTO GALERA, Oriental Mindoro – The municipal government of Puerto Galera said the premiere tourist destination remains closed to all tourists as it continues to initiate measures to fight the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) by working together with all resort and hotel owners and its residents.
Mayor Rocky D. Ilagan said he and the Sangguniang Bayan, led by Vice-Mayor Marlon Lopez, was fast-tracking the passage of an ordinance, requiring tourists and visitors to register first with the municipal tourism office before entering the municipality.
Mayor Ilagan said a booking office will be set up at the Port of Batangas where all the travel and other necessary documents of tourists will be processed before they are allowed to board the Puerto Galera-bound vessels.
“We will call this as “No Booking, No Entry” policy which means that nobody is permitted to proceed to Puerto Galera if they have no prior booking arrangement with the resort or hotel in our town,” Ilagan told The Manila Bulletin in an interview after a coastal clean-up activity conducted in Barangay Sabang last Sunday.
The new policy will be implemented as part of the town’s health and safety protocols to ensure that no one will be put to undue health risk while staying in the tourist town.
“This is intended for the safety of everybody, including those arriving tourists who want to enjoy our beautiful beaches and excellent diving sites,” Ilagan said.
The proposed ordinance is also expected to eliminate the abuses committed in the past by some enterprising personalities in the local tourism sector like overcharging of fares in tricycle and multicabs.
Pedro Magsino, president of the Diving Shops Association of Puerto Galera, said they were fully supporting the proposed measure as he assured Ilagan and Lopez that all their clients will be properly advised regarding the new policy.
Ilagan admitted that the COVID-19 pandemic totally paralyzed the local economy when the total lockdown was imposed in Luzon last March, which was considered as peak period for the popular tourist destination.
The mayor said that before the lockdown, approximately 500,000 tourists flocked to the town every year.