'Surfing soon!' Siargao tourism workers finally get the jab

Published August 28, 2021, 1:41 PM

by Alexandria Dennise San Juan

The Department of Tourism (DOT) has rolled out its vaccination program in Siargao Island where over 13,000 tourism workers are targeted to be inoculated in a bid to sustain the recovery of the pandemic-hit industry there.

A tourism worker in Siargao, dubbed as the surfing capital of the Philippines, receives his first dose of COVID-19 vaccine during the Department of Tourism’s inoculation program held at the Siargao Tourism Assistance Center in General Luna on Friday, August 27, 2021. (Photo from Department of Tourism)

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat and National Task Force (NTF) against COVID-19 deputy chief implementer Secretary Vince Dizon led on Friday, Aug. 27, the launching of the Department’s vaccination drive in the so-called “surfing capital” of the Philippines.

According to Puyat, an initial 2,000 first doses of COVID-19 vaccines were delivered to ramp up inoculation efforts in major tourist destinations in the country. The DOT aims to inoculate Siargao’s 13,150 tourism workers.

As of August 25, the DOT said that a total of 833 tourism workers on the island have already received their first dose of Sinovac vaccines through the Rural Health Unit of the Department of Health (DOH).

“Our goal is to vaccinate 100 percent of our tourism workers. We urge all eligible tourism employees in Siargao to avail of the vaccines. Protecting ourselves from the highly transmissible Delta variant means ensuring that all safety measures are in place, the most critical of which is vaccination,” Puyat said during the ceremony.

The tourism chief also emphasized the importance of collaboration between the government, private sector, and local community for the eventual reopening of Siargao, as well as the other popular tourist spots in the country.

“We ask for the support of the local government unit to strictly enforce the minimum health and safety protocols, such as masking and physical distancing in the island,” she added.

Tourist arrivals in Siargao, which has been named as one of “The World’s 100 Greatest Places of 2021” list of Time magazine, have picked up since it reopened its doors to local tourists with over 8,000 arrivals from January to August this year.

However, an executive order from the local government restricting the entry of tourists on the island is currently in effect until August 31.

Siargao is the latest stop on the DOT’s vaccination rollout tour following other key tourism destinations such as Bohol, Boracay, El Nido, Coron, San Vicente, Puerto Princesa City, and Pampanga.