Catanduanes ready for influx of tourists
LIGAO CITY, Albay, Philippines — After two years of lockdowns and travel restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, tourism players in the island province of Catanduanes are ready to welcome back tourists.
The province has been receiving numerous inquiries from potential tourists, particularly on requirements for those visiting the island since the airport in the capital town of Virac reopened on the first week of March, said provincial tourism officer Carmel Bonifacio Garcia.
The province has only three remaining active COVID-19 cases as of Friday. It has been under Alert Level 1 since March 1.
“There are no longer restrictions for tourists who are fully [vaccinated]. All they need to do is just present [vaccination] card and identification card, and for those who [are] partially [vaccinated] and unvaccinated, negative RT-PCR (reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction) or antigen test valid for three days from the date of testing will do,” Garcia said.
She said with the lowering of the alert level, which is locally supported by an executive order issued by Gov. Joseph Cua, domestic flights had expanded and increased. The Catanduanes domestic airport is now catering to four flights every week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday) since March 4. By March 27, daily flights are expected to resume.
Businesses in the province have started to recover from the economic downturn brought on by the pandemic and have spruced up their establishments, Garcia said.
“All of the establishments are 100-percent operational and all set in welcoming the tourists,” she said on Sunday.
Garcia said the province’s tourism sector had lost around P245 million in revenues over the last two years as the number of leisure travelers dwindled. Some 242,408 tourists visited Catanduanes in 2019, dropping to 56,705 in 2020 at the onset of the pandemic. The number of guests eventually increased to 60,953 in 2021 as more people got vaccinated against COVID-19.
Catanduanes, dubbed as the “Happy Island,” is known for its tourist-drawing Binurong Point and Puraran surfing spot, both in Baras town; Tuwad Tuwadan Lagoon and Hiyop Highlands, both in Pandan town; Summit View Park in Viga town; the long stretch of white sand beaches along Mamangal village in Virac town; islet hopping in Carorian village in Bato town; and the waterfalls of Maribina in Bato and Nahulugan in Gigmoto.
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