Local tourists welcome as Coron reopens
PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan, Philippines — Coron has reopened its tourism industry, allowing local travelers on regulated tours as Palawan province eased further into a relaxed community quarantine amid the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis.
Kim Ablana, municipal tourism officer, said island hopping, scuba diving, and other land-based tours were started anew on June 6 to reboot the local economy, which highly depends on tourism. But only residents of the Calamian Group of Islands — composed of the towns of Coron, Culion, Busuanga and Calauit — can benefit from such tours.
“For now, our target market is local tourists. Since there is still no inbound travel from mainland Palawan, we focused on residents from the Calamian islands,” Ablana said.
The Kayangan Lake, Twin Lagoon and Barracuda Lake will welcome local visitors starting June 12.
The municipal interagency task force has allowed the resumption of tourism activities, but tourists and tour facilitators were required to follow the modified general community quarantine guidelines.
As a prerequisite, local tourists need to secure a permit from the local Philippine Coast Guard station.
Island tours are limited to only 250 people per day, and only 30 scuba divers will be accommodated on a daily basis.
The tours are also restricted to people between 21 and 60 years old who must have valid identification documents proving their residence.
Tourist boat operators should provide alcohol or hand sanitizers to guests or observe other disinfecting measures onboard, with reduced carrying capacity to at least 50 percent for strict enforcement of physical distancing.
Palawan province had three confirmed COVID-19 cases as of Monday afternoon, records from the Department of Health’s Center for Health Development in Mimaropa (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan) region showed.
The reopening of airports to commercial flights in the province is still being discussed by officials of the provincial government and the capital, Puerto Princesa City, where the Puerto Princesa International Airport operates.
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