Is traveling still fun, safe in Phl?

“There is light at the end of the tunnel. Slowly but surely — when all the safety and health protocols are in place — we will be able to resume tourism and people will get back their jobs,” Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat optimistically told The Philippine STAR last July.

“We always say that with all the health and safety protocols in the country, it’s still more fun in the Philippines,” she added.

Three months later, top tourism destinations Baguio and Boracay are gradually opening their doors to domestic tourists.

Strawberry picking in La Trinidad, Benguet is one of the many activities that complete tourists’ experience in the province.

But unlike before, traveling isn’t as easy as booking, boarding, and basking in the sun. Although we’re already living the new normal, extra health and safety protocols have been strictly placed as authorities attempt to balance health and economic interests.

The Property Report PH gathers everything you need to know if you’re all braced to travel again after months of hard lockdown.

Up north, the summer capital opened its borders to residents of nearby provinces of Pangasinan, La Union, Ilocos Sur and Ilocos Norte last Oct. 1.

Baguio Mayor Benjamin Magalong reported that 489 individuals registered through the city’s Visitor Information and Travel Assistance (VISITA) system. However, only 66 pushed through with their plans.

Plan accordingly and register as soon as you’ve ticked all the boxes of health and safety preparations as the city only allows 200 tourists a day.

Aside from registering via the VISITA app, if you’re a tourist from Region 1, you must also secure pre-booking accommodations at hotels with Certificates of Authority to Operate (CAO) from the DOT.

Boracay, hailed as one of the best beaches in the world, opens its shores to 35 local tourists during the first day of its reopening after the COVID-19 lockdown.

For easy contact tracing and monitoring of tourists’ movements, you are also required to have an accredited tour agency that will assist you and prepare your travel itinerary before arrival.

Magalong stressed that “Do-It-Yourself” travel will not be allowed.

Once all of this is taken care of, you will go through a mandatory triage and PCR testing upon arrival. Prepare an extra budget as you will shoulder the test expenses. Right after, you will be directed to your hotel and asked to quarantine for at least nine hours while waiting for the test results.

For Boracay, 35 local tourists went to the world-famous island during the first day of reopening, according to Puyat.

Prior to its opening last Oct. 1, only residents from neighboring Antique, Capiz, Guimaras, Iloilo, and Negros Occidental were allowed to visit the island. Now, as long as you’re residing in areas under General Community Quarantine (GCQ) or the more relaxed Modified General Community Quarantine (MGCQ), you may visit the island.

Meanwhile, the Godofredo Ramos Airport in Caticlan is the only gateway and central entry point to monitor the entry of tourists strictly. Puyat said that enhanced hygiene and safety protocols are implemented in the entry point.

When going to Boracay, you will immediately feel what it’s like to travel in the new normal. It’s not just the quiet airports with little to no crowds — it’s all the preparations before the land, sea, or air journey.

Local tourists must submit a negative swab test result, taken in an accredited laboratory 48 hours before the travel date. Aside from budget considerations, you must also ensure that the hotel you’re staying in has CAO. Before savoring the pristine white beaches, you must accomplish health declaration forms via email by a province’s Final Validator.

Even though you’re finally out for a much-awaited vacation, masks must not be removed, unless necessary, and physical distancing must also be observed at all times.

Local tourists may also visit Baguio and Boracay government’s websites, and, for online health declaration forms and other clarifications.