CAMIGUIN (PIA)–With its continued efforts to economic recovery while fostering smart tourism, the Provincial Government of Camiguin eased its travel protocols, requiring only the 19,042 devotees and visitors during the Panaad 2023 with the Clean Camiguin QR code as they enter the province.
From only over 7,000 devotees and tourists in 2022 based on the report of the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA)-10, the number of travelers increased to 19,042, April 1-9, 2023. From this number, 14,292 were recorded from the Benoni Port, Balbagon Port (480), Guinsiliban Port (3,574), and Camiguin Airport (696).
Devotees, residents and visitors of Camiguin join the early morning mass to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, April 9, 2023, as led by the San Nicholas Parish Church. (JME/PIA-10/Camiguin)
Such also exceeded the PPA’s projected 10,000-15,000 number of visitors for this year’s pilgrimage and observance of the Holy Week.
“Last year, mao pa’y pag-abri gikan sa COVID, karon, mas ga-travel na gyud ang mga tao, mas galihok na, and mas daghan na bakunado, mas safe na lugar mag-travel. Mao nang mas daghan na gyud ang nag-anhi para mag-take part sa Panaad,” Gov. Xavier Jesus Romualdo said.
(Last year, it was just the start of the activities from COVID, now, people are really traveling more, moving more, and more people are vaccinated; it’s safer to travel. That’s why more people came to take part in the pilgrimage)
As for the travel protocols, Romualdo emphasized that with the high COVID-19 vaccination turnout as well as the province’s booster rate, they already allowed the entry of unvaccinated tourists and visitors.
“Sauna, vaccinated ra man gyud to pwede kung muanhi ka diri for tourism or leisure so kung trabaho, essential lugar, pwede. Ang unvaccinated karon gi-open na nato siya. Ang requirement lang is mag-antigen test na na’y negative antigen test,” he added.
As part of Panaad 2023, priests, churchgoers, devotees, local officials, and visitors join the Santo Entierro Procession during Good Friday, April 7, 2023, taking the streets of Mambajao from San Nicholas Parish Church. (JME/PIA-10/Camiguin)
(Before, only those who are vaccinated against COVID-19 can come here for tourism or leisure, so as if it’s for work or essential purposes. Now we have opened our doors for the unvaccinated visitors. The only requirement is to take an antigen test that is negative antigen test)
He emphasized that self-administered antigen test results will not be accepted in the entry points. They will only honor those negative antigen results from an accredited health facility of the Department of Health (DOH).
Responding to concerns on the long queues along Balingoan Port, Misamis Oriental, Romualdo said this roots from the issuance of tickets of the shipping companies and such also depends on the availability of the vessels.
He however said that there are now two more vessels that will operate in the province and they have already obtained their permits. Thus, it will now be easier to accommodate more visitors in the province.
Importance of CleanCamiguin QR
Ensuring safety and comfort of those who want to visit the province, the provincial government continues to require the use of the CleanCamiguin QR code.
Camiguin Tourism Officer Candice Borromeo-Dael said this is also part of their preparation as they will fully implement the SmarTourism program in the province soon.
The SmarTourism program, as initiated by the Department of Tourism (DOT), aims to make use of technology to promote destinations, attractions, and activities in the province. This also aims to ensure data-driven planning to boost Camiguin’s tourism.
Other agencies like the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), Philippine National Police (PNP), and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) also aid in ensuring safety and security in the province.
“Isa sa gi-implement nga protocols nga naa’y checking gyud sa mga baggage with the support sa PDEA ug sa Coast Guard nga wala gyu’y droga nga makasulod sa Camiguin. Gai-check ang baggage nga dala,” Romualdo said.
(One of the implemented protocols is the checking of baggage with the support of the PDEA and the Coast Guard so that no illegal drugs can enter Camiguin. Baggage will be checked)
Sharing his delight to have finally joined the pilgrimage after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, Arvin Martinez said he has been joining the Panaad since 1996.
“Kaning atong eksperyensya sa Panaad, usa kani ka tinuig nga again Panaad sa pagbaklay sa Camiguin aron nga magpasalamat sa mga grasya nga gihatag sa Ginoo at the same time to share the sacrifices sa Jesus Christ sa iyang pagbaklay sa Biyernes Santo didto sa paglansang sa iya sa krus,” Martinez said.
(This is an annual pledge to pray in Camiguin, to give thanks for the graces given by the Lord at the same time to share the sacrifices of Jesus Christ in his pilgrimage on Good Friday when he was crucified)
Romualdo also recognized the groups and volunteers who shared their time, resources and effort to provide snacks and refreshments to devotees and visitors who joined in the pilgrimage. (RTP/PIA-10/Camiguin)