The tourist sites of Ilocos Norte have reopened only for residents

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THE ROCK: Local tourists must wait for restrictions to relax to revisit the Kapurpurawan rock formation in Burgos, shown in this archive photo, as the city has not yet been included in the areas of Ilocos Province Norte authorized to resume tourist activities. But Ilocos Norte’s premier seaside destination, Pagudpud, has reopened to visitors from other towns with health protocols. —WILLIE LOMIBAO

LAOAG CITY, Ilocos Norte, Philippines – After being closed for several months due to strict quarantine restrictions amid COVID-19 outbreaks, Ilocos Norte has again allowed residents to travel to the province from Wednesday to revive its struggling tourism industry, officials said.

In a notice released on Tuesday, the Ilocos Norte tourism office said pleasure travel to at least 18 areas of the province under general community quarantine (GCQ), the second least restrictive containment classification in the country, would be exclusive to the inhabitants.

These towns are Adams, Bacarra, Badoc, Banna, Carasi, Currimao, Dingras, Dumalneg, Nueva Era, Pagudpud, Paoay, Pasuquin, Piddig, Pinili, San Nicolas, Sarrat, Solsona and Vintar.

Subject to restrictions

The towns of Laoag and Batac, and the towns of Bangui, Burgos and Marcos will remain under Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ), the second most restrictive quarantine classification.

Tourist sites in Ilocos Norte had been closed since August 16, when most towns in the province were placed under the most stringent enhanced community quarantine. Pagudpud, one of the main tourist destinations in the province, closed its doors to tourists on July 23.

The province is under GCQ with increased restrictions until September 30, which means travelers from Metro Manila, which is one of its main tourist markets, are still not allowed in.

In an executive order, Governor Matthew Marcos Manotoc opened all parks and recreation areas to the public in the areas of the GCQ, subject to the 50% directive on the capacity of the sites of the Ministry of Tourism.

Losses P17.8-B

Residents of all ages who do not have underlying health issues and symptoms or exposures to COVID-19 would be allowed to visit these tourist sites in GCQ areas, Manotoc said.

Residents living in areas under MECQ should also present a negative antigen test result carried out within 48 hours before visiting tourist destinations in the province.

Known for its beaches, heritage sites and sand dunes, Ilocos Norte had attracted around 2.1 million tourists during the peak season from January to May before the pandemic.

The local tourism industry had also absorbed at least 17.8 billion pesos in losses due to travel restrictions.

—JOHN MICHAEL MUGAS

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