The Provincial Board has urged the national government, through the Department of Tourism, to prioritize the vaccination of tourism workers in El Nido, Coron, and San Vicente.
Board Member Juan Antonio Alvarez, in a resolution approved by the board on Tuesday, pointed to the health risks that unvaccinated tourism workers will face once these towns gradually open to domestic tourists.
“Kung sila ay magbubukas ng todo-todo na, nandiyan ang risk kasi ang mga tao na pupunta sa kanila ay hindi lang taga-Palawan,” Alvarez said in an interview.
He added that tourism secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat also fully supports the prioritization of tourism workers.
“Being another tourist destination sa Pilipinas, na well-known din, baka puwede rin tayong mabigyan,” he added.
Puyat has been campaigning for the prioritization as early as the start of the year, saying many areas of the country are dependent on tourism activity as their sole source of income. In early July, the local government of Aklan, under the DOT’s watch, started vaccinating tourism workers in Boracay.
Coron Municipal Tourism Officer (MTO) Kay Ablaña stated that the local government welcomes Alvarez’s request adding that due to limited vaccine supplies, vaccination has been slow in the town, which is set to reopen its tourism industry again in August.
“Agree and support ang LGU sa panawagan ni BM, kaya lang sa ngayon, very limited ang binigay na vaccines dito sa amin. Very much willing and prepared ang aming RHU (Rural Health Unit) to vaccinate all in the priority list. Ang problema lang ay vaccines ang kulang na kulang,” she said in a text message Tuesday.
San Vicente and El Nido have already reopened to tourists, but require negative laboratory tests and booking with a DOT-accredited accommodation before visiting.
Only El Nido is open to tourists coming from outside Palawan traveling in via AirSwift.
Throughout Palawan, only those in priority groups A1, A2, and A3 are eligible for vaccination. Tourism workers are under the A4 group, along with those considered as “economic frontliners” by the national government.
Even Puerto Princesa has yet to start vaccinating those in priority group A4 due to limited vaccine supplies arriving in the city.