Affected by the COVID-19 pandemic

TACLOBAN CITY – The provincial government of Samar has formally opened its tourism industry to local tourists, almost eight months after the sector was shut down due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
Last November 16, the provincial government under Governor Michael Reynolds Tan reopened four of its major tourism destinations.
These are the Torpedo Extreme Boat Ride and the Paranas Ecotrail and Birding Site in Paranas town; San Juan by the Bay in Sta Rita; Balantak Falls, Saob Cave, and Sohoton Caves, and Natural Bridge, all in Basey; and the Lulugayan Falls and Ecovillage, both in Calbiga.
The decision to open these tourism destinations is also to help the people’s organizations that manages these assets which  provides them livelihood.
But while these tourist destinations have been revived, only local tourists would be allowed to visit and they would be coming from areas under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) status.
To visit these tourist destinations, tourists are required to do early reservation to observe the physical distancing and follow the 50 percent total capacity in accommodating visitors in these selected sites.
They are also required to bring and present valid medical certificate and travel authority before they would be allowed to enter the sites.
Failure to present these documents means that they will barred from entering these destinations.
The operators of these tourist destinations will also accepts those who are 16 years old up to 64 years old.
Tourists who wanted to visits the destinations in the four towns may coordinate by contacting the provincial tourism office or directly to the town they wanted to visit.
Before the opening of the tourist destinations in Samar, personnel from the Tourism Promotions Board of the Department of Tourism (DOT) visited some of these sites like the Torpedo Extreme Boat Ride and the Paranas Ecotrail and Birding Site, both in Paranas.
Preparations and careful planning was also made by the province with the help of the regional office of the DOT to ensure the safety and well-being of the tourists when they visit these sites especially now that cases of COVID-19 in the region continue to increase.
“All the preparations are being done now to ensure that there will be safe trip in Samar, safe trip in Eastern Visayas,” DOT Regional Director Karena Rosa Tiopes said.
She added that even the DOT want to open all tourist destinations, the final decision will still have to come from the local government unit and the organizations that are managing the sites if they are ready or not to accept tourists.
Opening the province to local tourists of the region is a first step to future plans of allowing tourists from other regions to visit beautiful places in Samar, according to its Gov.Tan.
“This is a work in progress. This is just a start. We will start first within the region tourism and when we are comfortable enough, then we will open the inter-regional travel,” he said.
The provincial government of Samar has started to give focus on its tourism industry back in 2015 when then governor and now congresswoman, Sharee Ann Tan, launched the Spark Samar program.
Ready to market tourist destinations were selected under the Spark Samar program like the Sohoton Cave and Natural Bridge in Basey; Lulugayan Falls in Calbiga; Torpedo Boat Ride in Paranas and the San Juan by the Bay, in Sta.Rita.