DOT pledges vaccines for Siargao tourism frontliners

Cloud 9 Boardwalk. (Photo by Tommy Schultz courtesy DOT)

SIARGAO, the surfing capital of the Philippines, is now open to domestic tourists from general community quarantine (GCQ) and modified GCQ areas.

And just in time—the destination just made it to TIME magazine’s “The World’s 100 Greatest Places of 2021” for its popularity among surfers, ease of booking resorts, and improved Internet connection.

With this, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat told the BusinessMirror she has already requested for vaccines for the island, adding there were “13,500 active tourism workers” there.

“Understandably, among the top priorities for tourists traveling during this period are their health and safety. One of the ways we can ensure this is by getting our frontliners vaccinated as soon as possible, to give an extra layer of protection between them and our tourists,” she underscored.

The Department of Tourism (DOT) has been actively seeking vaccines for tourism frontliners in key leisure destinations; Panglao Island and Boracay Island have received their initial deliveries of vaccines for their workers.

As for Siargao’s entry on TIME’s world’s 100 greatest places list, Romulo Puyat said, “I am pleased that the country’s innate beauty continues to draw attention from travelers all over the world despite the pandemic. We are doubling our efforts to create a future of Philippine travel that is safe, more fun, and provides travelers with an authentic and meaningful experience throughout their journey.”

Wrote TIME writer Duncan Forgan: “While destinations such as Boracay, Cebu and Palawan nailed the mass market, the teardrop-­shaped island off the coast of Mindanao until recently had been best known to a dedicated band of surfers lured by consistent waves. But the secret is out, and new spots are popping up on the island, including the beachfront Inara Siargao Resort, an intimate five-suite property that can be booked on Instagram.”

He added, “Just before Covid-19 shutdowns, Siargao got additional cell towers to improve data connectivity, which will be a boon to tourism when it reopens to vaccinated international travelers.”

According to the publication, the list is a tribute to individuals and businesses who were able to “adapt, build, and innovate” amid the challenges of the pandemic. It also highlights “ingenuity, creativity, revitalization and reopenings in destinations across the world.”

The island has been consistently on the list of the world’s best islands in international travel publications because of Cloud 9, a famous wave in Siargao and consistent favorite of local and foreign surfers.

Siargao may be reached by direct air service from Manila via Cebu, as well as by ferry transport from Surigao Del Norte. It follows strict health and safety protocols, with unique travel entry requirements that are published on the official Facebook page, “Surigao Del Norte Tourism and Culture Office.”

Meanwhile, the DOT reminded accredited accommodation establishments operating as quarantine hotels that room sharing is allowed for individuals belonging to the same household and traveling together, especially families with minors.

“We have received reports that some of these DOT-accredited hotels have been implementing a one-room-one-person policy even for travelers coming from the same household. While the Department is aware of the downturns that the pandemic brought to the tourism industry, particularly the accommodation sector, we would like to reiterate that all DOT-accredited establishments must strictly follow the guidelines released by the Department to avoid confusion among travelers who need to quarantine,” said Romulo Puyat.

DOT Administrative Order No. 2021-004-A requires single occupancy bookings only if quarantining guests are from different households.

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