The Department of Tourism (DOT) Region 13 has assisted 1,044 foreign tourists stranded in the Caraga region in the wake of travel restrictions and flight cancellations triggered by the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) amid the COVID-19 epidemic crisis.
The DOT Region 13’s 24-7 Online Assistance Team closely coordinated with the local government units (LGUs) to locate through phone, email and social media the distressed tourists and facilitate their evacuation under ECQ conditions.
Caraga localities include Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Dinagat Islands, Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur, Surigao City, Butuan City, and Siargao Island.
In coordination with the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), at least 416 stranded tourists signed up and availed of the five sweeper flights from Sayac Airport in Siargao Island to Clark International Airport for their flight to their home countries or for P2P bus trips to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) for their onward flights abroad.
Meanwhile, Region V (Bicol) assisted as of March 27 a total of 246 tourists stranded in the region on their return to their home countries since the imposition of travel restrictions.
The DOT Region V (DOTR5) response team said 161 have already left for their home country while some 85 tourists remain in Bicol awaiting their scheduled departures originally dated later in April or May.
In transporting to the Ninoy Aquino International Airportt in Manila and Clark International Airport (CIA) in Pampanga the 161 outbound tourists of different nationalities were provided the necessary emergency tourist transport pass, other pertinent documents and that passenger load limits were carried out to comply with social distancing protocols.
As of 30 March, DOTR5 recorded 51 local tourists who remain stranded in the different provinces of the region.