To boost the confidence of tourists to visit Ilocos Norte again, the Tourism Promotions Board of the Philippines (TPBP), the marketing and promotions arm of the Department of Tourism (DOT), has approved a total of PHP7 million for the RT-PCR (reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction) testing of tourism workers in the province.
Covering at least 2,000 DOT-accredited tourism workers composed of tour guides, driver-guides, hotel and restaurant workers among others, RT-PCR testing bearing negative result is required before they can mingle with pre-registered tourists visiting Ilocos Norte.
Xavier Ruiz, Tourism Operations Officer of the Ilocos Norte Tourism Office, said Monday they were able to secure the fund since November last year as they were supposed to roll out the free RT-PCR testing of tourism workers in December due to the rising cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), mostly in this city.
“The free RT-PCR tests of tourism workers is meant to lessen the burden of tourism employers and their workers as they resume operations again under the new normal. This works parallel with our tourists who are also required to submit themselves to Covid-19 tests before they can be permitted entry here,” he said.
To implement this, members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan presided by Vice Governor Cecilia Araneta-Marcos, unanimously approved on Monday Resolution No. 2021-01-250, granting authority to Governor Matthew Joseph Manotoc to enter into a memorandum of agreement with the Mariano Marcos Memorial Hospital and Medical Center (MMMH&MC) represented by Dra. Ma. Lourdes Otayza.
The MMMH&MC is a Covid-19 hospital in Batac City that will administer the RT-PCR testing of tourism workers.
As of today, Xavier reported a total of 582 tourists, local and international, who have visited the province’s major tourism destinations since the reopening of tourism last October 2020.
“Majority of them are Filipinos and some expats based in the Philippines,” he said.
In Luzon, Ilocos Norte is the first to reopen its borders to tourists since October 15 last year to jumpstart the local economy.
Only “healthy” tourists from Luzon are welcome, and they should follow all the tourism guidelines when going to the province such as sticking with the travel itinerary with an accredited tour agent and must submit a negative result of antigen test, among others.
While in Ilocos Norte, tourists are not allowed to visit public markets and other crowded areas where locals frequent. (PNA)