WHERE TO GO NEXT? Destinations you could easily reach via car this holiday season

It is not business as usual, especially if you are below 15 years of age, or 65 years old and above. Most business establishments and accommodations strictly enforce this rule from the IATF, which also includes following rules ensuring physical distancing, wearing of face mask and face shield, checking of body temperature, etc.

With or without government guidelines, it is prudent to stay at home as Covid cases are rising. But if you really want to go out and spend the long holiday weekend somewhere outside the metro, then your best bet is to organize that road trip you’ve been wanting to do to shake off that “quarantine fever.”

It is also advisable to use (or rent) your own vehicle. It is safer (though not cheaper) compared to taking public transportation at this time.

Another advice: Make sure to book your accommodations in advance and ask for requirements, such as medical certificates, test results, etc. It would save you a ton of effort and money to plan things well. You don’t want to go to a far place, only to be turned away because of a technicality.

An added guide would be the official website of the Department of Tourism (DOT) https://philippines.travel/safeph. Check the website for the latest updates and status of various tourism sites located all over the country.


La Union: Starting to safely open

If you want to celebrate a belated summer and Boracay, Cebu, or Siargao are too expensive for you since you have to buy airfare at regular rates and present various test results to prove that you are fit to travel, then the best option would be the beaches of Batangas or La Union.

In fact, La Union is keen at jumpstarting its tourism once again, after months of lull. The Department of Tourism (DOT) recently launched its VISITA (Visitor Information and Travel Application) app in the province.

So what you have to do first is to download this mobile app, which was developed to streamline tourism activities in the context of new normal. (Trivia: The VISITA app was developed by the City Government of Baguio to monitor the surge of visitors in the Summer Capital as it opened its doors for tourism last September. Eventually, it was adapted by the DOT to be used for visitor monitoring, contact tracing, and other tourist activity regulation in Region 1).

Through the VISITA app, local tourism offices may keep track of the tourist activities to ensure that safety protocols are followed.

According to a statement from the provincial government, “La Union is open only to tourists from Region 1 and Baguio City. Through insights generated by the VISITA app, the province may assess its readiness to eventually open tourism to the entire Luzon.” Let’s wait and see if La Union would be once again open to tourists from Metro Manila.

Baguio: High in Safety

As a prime tourist destination, Baguio is challenged with ensuring that its locals are safe, and its destinations are also safe for tourists. As of the moment, Baguio can only accommodate 500 tourists per day (may change depending on the decision of the LGU). Visitors are required to sign up with the Baguio VISITA app and to upload various requirements (such as ID, photo, etc.). For an added layer of safety, guests must have a negative Covid-19 test result, which can be acquired prior to travel or upon arrival.

Ilocos Sur: History with a Nod to Safety

Ilocos Sur, home of the historical site of Vigan, is now open to tourists from Luzon. Like in Baguio, guests are required to have confirmed bookings to a DOT-accredited hotel or travel agency. All are required to register online at SafePass and have a pre-entry Covid-19 test (RT-PCR issued not more than 48 hours prior to travel). Guests will also undergo an antigen test upon arrival. Various tourist sites have different requirements, too, so better inquire in advance.


CALABARZON (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon): Welcoming, in a new normal way

This region offers a myriad of destinations perfect for a day drive (with the exception of the easternmost towns of Quezon).

In Cavite, one of the top tourist sites is Tagaytay, which is now open for business. But again, it is not business as usual as all establishments in this city are required to observe health and safety protocols. The city also has a strict curfew at night, so as to prevent unnecessary late-night gatherings. Call your accommodation or hotel first to ask for their requirements.

Tourists are now flocking to Tagaytay

In Laguna, specifically the hotsprings area of Pansol in Calamba and Los Banos, private resorts are open. A fast check reveals that majority of these resorts are now open, with some changes to follow the LGU’s health protocols.

One private resort requires early reservation to determine the exact number of guests. There is a checkpoint to see if this is followed as some resorts (more for the public ones) can only accommodate half of its capacity.

In order for your family and guests to be safe, make sure that the private pool you will rent is thoroughly sanitized. And if possible, maintain less face-to-face contact with people outside your group, so utilize digital payments, have your food and drinks delivered, or practice regular handwashing.

A resort in Batangas was recently in the news (and was ordered to stop operations) as a video showed a party being held at its place. Proper physical distancing must still be observed at all times, even though you all came together as a group.

Subic: Open for Responsible Tourism

Subic is open to those who plan to stay for a day or two. It is advisable to keep an itinerary with you (or a copy of a hotel/ resort reservation) and a copy of a health certificate coming from either public or private doctors. These documents may be asked from you and your family if you plan to go around and visit the sites and shops. For longer stays (more than 96 hours), there are other requirements asked by authorities, which includes RT-PCR testing, confirmation of bookings, among others.

Credit belongs to : Manila Bulletin

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