BAGUIO CITY – Tourists have to present a negative test result for coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) and a vaccination card before they can enter the town of Sagada in Mountain Province.

The protocol is included in Advisory No. 63 posted on the town's official Facebook account on Thursday, which updated entry protocols in compliance with Sangguniang Bayan Resolutions 210-2021 and 222-2021.

The town will be accepting tourists who can present a certificate showing that the person has been fully vaccinated which must be accompanied by a rapid antigen test result taken not more than 24 hours upon arrival in Sagada or a reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) or saliva test result which is 48 hours from the time of release.

The test results must be accompanied by the official receipt from the accredited testing facility.

Day tours are not allowed and tourists must book at least a one-night stay in a Department of Tourism (DOT)-accredited and local government unit (LGU)-certified accommodation establishment.

A list of accommodation establishments authorized to operate may be accessed at https://lodging.sagada.gov.ph.

All tourists must be registered in the Umali Kayo (Welcome) Online Registration Portal which may be accessed at https://umali-kayo.sagada.gov.ph which is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. Tourists must register at least two days before arrival.

The advisory also said tourists must be at the Sagada triage between 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. only for the checking and verification of documents.

Mayor James Pooten, in a phone interview on Friday, said they will not accept tourists with incomplete requirements and will file the appropriate criminal charges against those who will attempt to use fake documents.

Tourists who want to enter Sagada but have no test results will be subjected to a rapid antigen test and must pay the PHP960 fee.

All tourists will have the option to enter Sagada via personal/private vehicles or public transportation.

Pooten added that public transportation groups or corporations shall take the responsibility of checking if a tourist has complied with all requirements before boarding.

"They shall additionally take full responsibility in providing the needs of tourists who are denied entry due to lack of requirements," he said.

He also said symptomatic tourists shall be subjected to antigen testing and those who will test positive can either choose to be confined in an isolation facility within Sagada or to return home immediately.

"If a tourist onboard a public transportation tests positive, all other individuals on board the same vehicle shall be treated as close contacts," the mayor said.

To better inform tourists of the rules and regulations, tourists are required to undergo orientation at the tourism hub and each will receive a tourist kit and a tourist identification card.

Pooten is hopeful that the town's safe reopening to tourism will help the local industry pick up from the pandemic's impact.

About 70 percent of Sagada’s central business district is engaged in tourism.

The town has around 1,300 tour guides, 300 inns and restaurants, 100 souvenir shops, and the chain is created with the establishments employing locals, while the souvenir shops source products from suppliers who also employ workers.

Pooten said the town lost PHP10 million in 2020 from its share of the tourist’s registration fee.

The municipality is also seeing a low or no collection of local taxpayers for 2021. (PNA)