Hun­dred Is­lands re­open to lo­cals

Philippine Daily Inquirer - - FRONT PAGE - —STORY BY YOLANDA SOTELO

ALAMINOS CITY—ONLY 1,000 guests a day will be al­lowed to tour Hun­dred Is­lands Na­tional Park when this tourist spot in Pan­gasi­nan prov­ince re­opens on July 1. The is­lands will ini­tially wel­come res­i­dents of west­ern Pan­gasi­nan un­til Au­gust. The park may even­tu­ally ac­com­mo­date peo­ple from other parts of the prov­ince or the Ilo­cos re­gion, de­pend­ing on the quar­an­tine re­stric­tions that may be im­posed later.

ALAMINOS CITY—

Start­ing on July 1, the Hun­dred Is­lands Na­tional Park (HINP), one of the top tourist draw­ers in north­ern Lu­zon, will re­open to local tourists but on a lim­ited scale and with strict health pro­to­cols as pre­cau­tion against the spread of the new coro­n­avirus dis­ease (COVID-19).

Rose Ar­guello, as­sis­tant city tourism of­fi­cer, said only 1,000 guests daily, or 50 per­cent of the park’s orig­i­nal ca­pac­ity, would be ac­com­mo­dated. The HINP com­prises 123 is­lands.

The is­lands will ini­tially cater to res­i­dents of the towns of Agno, Sual, Anda, Bani, Boli­nao, Bur­gos, In­fanta, Da­sol, Mabini and this city, all in the first con­gres­sional district, from July to Au­gust, Ar­guello said.

Ac­cord­ing to her, the tourism of­fice has been get­ting in­quiries about what visi­tors should un­dergo when the HINP re­sumes op­er­a­tion.

“We are ex­pect­ing to have guests but not as many as we used to have be­fore the pan­demic,” Ar­guello said.

The park may even­tu­ally re­open to ac­com­mo­date res­i­dents in Pan­gasi­nan prov­ince, or in the Ilo­cos re­gion, de­pend­ing on the re­stric­tions that the gov­ern­ment will im­pose in the com­ing months.

Health pro­to­cols

“Ev­ery­thing is not fi­nal yet and will all de­pend on the sit­u­a­tion of the pan­demic,” Ar­guello

said.

Part of the health pro­to­cols set by the city gov­ern­ment, which op­er­ates the HINP, is al­low­ing only 50-per­cent ca­pac­ity for boats that will ferry tourists but with the same rates.

Boat­men will be re­quired to wear face masks, reg­u­larly dis­in­fect their boats and pro­vide al­co­hol for pas­sen­gers who also need to un­dergo ther­mal scan­ning.

Ar­guello said overnight stays would re­main sus­pended and day tours would only be al­lowed be­tween 6 a.m. and 3 p.m. Ex­cept for snor­kel­ing, all other ac­tiv­i­ties of­fered in the HINP are al­lowed, in­clud­ing ba­nana boat, hel­met div­ing and swim­ming, she said.

But swim­mers are also lim­ited to only 200 on Que­zon Is­land, 100 on Gov­er­nor’s Is­land, and 100 on Chil­dren’s Is­land. These are the is­lands with wide beach­fronts.

Ar­guello said the car­ry­ing ca­pac­ity of the beaches had not been es­tab­lished yet and the num­ber of swim­mers al­lowed was only a guide­line on lim­it­ing the num­ber of peo­ple in the wa­ter.

The park will fea­ture a three-di­men­sional art­work at Lu­cap Wharf as an ad­di­tional at­trac­tion. Pre­pared by local artists dur­ing the en­hanced com­mu­nity quar­an­tine, the art­work will show­case pho­to­graphs of the mu­nic­i­pal hall, Pil­grim­age Is­land and un­der­wa­ter crea­tures, among oth­ers.

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