Several areas in the Philippines are now opening up to tourists, six months into the national quarantine. The summer months were a strange one this year -- to put it mildly -- so we're sure you're itching to know whether or not you can finally travel, at least domestically, again.
We list down the most popular destinations that have reopened, and the guidelines you need to know.
Around 80% of the restaurants in everyone's favorite road-trip destination have opened, according to city administrator Gregorio Monreal on Sept. 21. Ten percent of the city's hotels are open to accommodate tourists, too, while popular spots such as the Picnic Grove, People's Park, and Sky Ranch are at 50% capacity. Monreal added that tourists must comply with health protocols when they visit, "dahil kung magkakaroon ng kaso, automatic lockdown ho ang establishment."
With Tagaytay under MGCQ and the capital under GCQ, the question is whether or not you need a travel pass. Cavite Governor Jonvic Remulla said on Sept. 17 that "Bukas po ang Tagaytay City under MGCQ at hindi po kinakailangan ng TRAVEL PASS para makarating dito."
Later that same day, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said, "Mga taga-Metro Manila na nais pumunta ng Tagaytay, kinakailangan ninyo pong kumuha ng travel pass," in a press briefing.
A few days later on Sept. 21, Remulla took to Facebook to point out the confusion between local and national government. "Dito sa Pilipinas ay nakakalito at sadyang nakakadismaya ang implementasyon ng mga patakaran laban sa COVID-19," he wrote. "Puwedeng tumawid ang may 100,000 na Caviteño patungong NCR without a travel pass para pumasok sa trabaho ngunit BAWAL pumunta ang mga taga-NCR sa Tagaytay kapag walang travel pass."
The "Summer Capital of the Philippines" is opening to tourists on Oct. 1 -- with visitors fromthe neighboring Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union, and Pangasinan regions as priority. Initially, Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong set the opening for Sept. 22 but had to move it back to make way for coordination with local government units.
An initial cap of 200 visitors daily was set for the City of Pines. You will be required to register though the VIS.I.T.A. platform set up by the Department of Tourism before being allowed entry. Short for "Baguio Visitor Information and Travel Assistance," this digital platform will help officials monitor and trace visitors to the region. A Q-coded Tourist Pass will be issued to you so be sure to have that handy at all times!
It would be best to coordinate with a travel agency accredited by the Department of Tourism (DOT) if you plan on traveling to Baguio. Plus, you will have to be cleared of COVID-19 through swab or rapid tests with results issued not more than 48 hours before your travel date. "Test results are valid for a five-day itinerary only," according to the DOT.
A mainstay on "Best Island" lists across the globe, Boracay is set to welcome tourists back starting Oct. 1. Folks from around the Philippines-including those under GCQ areas and of any age-will be allowed through, the DOT said on Sept. 23.
Tourists who wish to visit Boracay will be required to go under the Test Before Travel regulation. A negative COVID-19 test result must be presented from 48 to 72 hours before traveling to the island. Visitors must also undergo strict quarantine from the time they get their test to their time of departure for Boracay. Plus, tourists must fill out an online health declaration form and present confirmation of their booking at an accredited hotel or resort. Around 199 establishments, with 4,416 rooms, have been issued Certificates of Authority to Operate, according to the DOT.
The Godofredo P. Ramos Airport in Caticlan is the designated entry point. The island's Ciriaco S. Tirol Hospital is now an accredited Level 1 trauma hospital while the Dr. Rafael S. Tumbokon Memorial Hospital in Kalibo, Aklan, has its own COVID-19 laboratory.