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Ready for business: Matthew Manotoc says Ilocos Norte to start welcoming tourists in October

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LAOAG CITY – Ilocos Norte, known for its crystal-clear beaches, is looking forward to welcoming local tourists especially Metro Manila residents who may have been itching to travel after six months of lockdown.

Gov. Matthew Joseph Manotoc expressed confidence that if the situation gets better, Ilocos Norte would soon reopen its borders to Metro Manila tourists.

“By October, we plan to start welcoming tourists from Manila because I feel there are a lot from Manila who want to go to the beach and want to escape. We would like to welcome them as long as they submit themselves to RT-PCR test and pre-arranged their trip,” Manotoc said in a virtual press conference Tuesday.

He said Metro Manila is a big market for tourism and there may be a number of residents who would like to get out of the region and consider work by the beach or work from home.

He clarified that the gradual reopening of the North Luzon corridor will start in Baguio on Sept. 21.

“We will not be admitting tourists immediately. We can go visit Baguio starting Sept. 21 but Baguio (residents) cannot visit us yet. It starts from there and it will be a learning process on how best we can open up to tourists,” he said.

The guidelines for reopening borders for travel, however, are stringent.

Provincial tourism officer Aianree Raquel said in an earlier interview that tourists would have to pre-register using a web-based tourist registration system (stayin.ilocosnorte.ph), developed by the Mariano Marcos State University and book in a hotel both accredited by the Department of Tourism and the provincial government of Ilocos Norte.

Tourists must also be assisted by an accredited tour agency that will be made responsible for monitoring the tourists and manage their itinerary.

Tourists will not also be allowed to stay with relatives or friends as a health precaution.

Before entry at the border, tourists are required to secure a travel authority, medical certificate, accomplish a health declaration form not earlier than 48 hours before departure for Ilocos Norte using the Stay IN app, and show a negative rapid antigen test within 48 hours before arrival at the border checkpoint. Original documents and IDs must be shown at the border for verification.

Tourists can stay for at least five days up to 30 days but those who may wish to extend need to undergo another test with a negative result. Those who test positive would be handled by the local government and the hotel. (PNA)

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