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ONLY 1,000 GUESTS DAILY

Pangasinan’s Hundred Islands reopen to local tourists

/ 04:17 AM July 01, 2020

PILGRIM SPOT A giant statue of Jesus Christ welcomes visitors to Pilgrimage Island at the Hundred Islands National Park in Alaminos City, Pangasinan. This particular island is popular to guests and pilgrims who want to spend some time in prayer and silence. —WILLIE LOMIBAO

ALAMINOS CITY, Pangsinan, Philippines — Starting on July 1, the Hundred Islands National Park (HINP), one of the top tourist drawers in northern Luzon, will reopen to local tourists but on a limited scale and with strict health protocols as precaution against the spread of the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Rose Arguello, assistant city tourism officer, said only 1,000 guests daily, or 50 percent of the park’s original capacity, would be accommodated. The HINP comprises 123 islands.

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The islands will initially cater to residents of the towns of Agno, Sual, Anda, Bani, Bolinao, Burgos, Infanta, Dasol, Mabini and this city, all in the first congressional district, from July to August, Arguello said.

According to her, the tourism office has been getting inquiries about what visitors should undergo when the HINP resumes operation.

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“We are expecting to have guests but not as many as we used to have before the pandemic,” Arguello said.The park may eventually reopen to accommodate residents in Pangasinan province, or in the Ilocos region, depending on the restrictions that the government will impose in the coming months.

Health protocols

“Everything is not final yet and will all depend on the situation of the pandemic,” Arguello said.Part of the health protocols set by the city government, which operates the HINP, is allowing only 50-percent capacity for boats that will ferry tourists but with the same rates.

Boatmen will be required to wear face masks, regularly disinfect their boats and provide alcohol for passengers who also need to undergo thermal scanning.Arguello said overnight stays would remain suspended and day tours would only be allowed between 6 a.m. and 3 p.m. Except for snorkeling, all other activities offered in the HINP are allowed, including banana boat, helmet diving and swimming, she said.

But swimmers are also limited to only 200 on Quezon Island, 100 on Governor’s Island, and 100 on Children’s Island. These are the islands with wide beachfronts.

Arguello said the carrying capacity of the beaches had not been established yet and the number of swimmers allowed was only a guideline on limiting the number of people in the water.

The park will feature a three-dimensional artwork at Lucap Wharf as an additional attraction. Prepared by local artists during the enhanced community quarantine, the artwork will showcase photographs of the municipal hall, Pilgrimage Island and underwater creatures, among others.

Yolanda Sotelo

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TAGS: coronavirus pandemic, coronavirus Philippines, COVID-19, Hundred Islands, Pangasinan tourism
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