(SPOT.ph) Philippine tourism has slowly begun to restart these past few months, with popular spots such as Baguio city, Boracay, and Tagaytay opening up in October. The latest to join the list is the laid-back Malapascua Island in Cebu. The popular destination officially reopened to tourists on Sunday, November 22, around nine months after shutting down completely due to the quarantine.
The island barangay is located in Daanbantayan town, northern Cebu, and is popular for its many dive sites, white-sand beaches, and generally chill vibe. Tourist operations were halted for the past few months due to the quarantine—with many residents left without a steady source of income. "Too many people are suffering not because they are afflicted by COVID but because of a COVID-19-afflicted economy," stated Cebu governor Gwendolyn Garcia in a report by Sugbo News. The governor visited the island on November 22 together with members of the Cebu Provincial Tourism Task Force.
For now, only local tourists will be allowed into the island as foreign travel is still prohibited. "Let’s not pin all our hopes in international tourism alone, it will come. Let us encourage domestic tourism. That should be a start," said Garcia. Meanwhile, Daanbantayan Mayor Sun Shimura also pointed out that the past few months of decreased foot traffic gave them time to improve the island's many marine hotspots.
The nearby Bantayan Island—another popular beach destination in northern Cebu—is set to welcome their airport's first commercial flight this month. Though there's no official opening date yet, the move will ideally bring more tourist attention to the area. Garcia added that there are also talks of reopening Bohol, Siquijor, and Negros Oriental.