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2021 • 2 • 2

El Nido is one of the most beautiful island destinations in the Philippines. When the pandemic hit, El Nido closed its doors to tourists and only reopened in late 2020. Today, the municipality is still on Phase 2 of their gradual re-opening. They are now open to tourists both from within and outside Palawan.

A lot of things have changed when it comes to travel not just in El Nido but in other destinations too. This includes the addition of protocols to be followed and documents required to be allowed entry to your destination.

If you’re planning to go on a trip to El Nido, here are the requirements you need to prepare and other things you need to know prior to your intended travel date as published by the El Nido Tourism Facebook page.

Before Traveling to El Nido

1. Flight Tickets

As of writing, tourists from outside Palawan are only allowed to fly directly to El Nido via Lio Airport.

Airports in Puerto Princesa and San Vicente currently don’t allow tourists to fly in yet. For your direct flight to El Nido, you may book a flight with Airswift.

2. Confirmed Accommodations

A confirmed booking in an accommodation with a Certificate of Authority to Operate (CAO) from the Department of Tourism (DOT) is required for tourists traveling to El Nido.

Here are just a few of the many hotels and resorts with CAO:


3. Tour Booking

Tourists are allowed to go out of their accommodation for guided island activities. You must book a tour with a tour operator or travel agency with accreditation from the DOT and the LGU’s Local Seal of Compliance (LSOC).


4. Negative RT-PCR Test Result

All tourists must undergo a swab test before flying to El Nido.

A negative RT-PCR test result taken within 48 hours before your flight is required.

5. QR-coded tourist ID (QT-ID)

To get your QT-ID, go to the official El Nido Tourism website. Fill out the personal information sheet and submit the following requirements:

  • a copy of valid ID
  • accomplished Health Declaration Form
  • travel itinerary provided by an accredited tour operator
  • hotel booking confirmation
  • RT-PCR swab test result

All these documents will then be subject to verification.

Once it’s verified, you will receive your QT-ID. Print out your QT-ID and save a digital copy on your mobile device for good measure.

You should keep this with you at all times during your stay in El Nido.

Guidelines during Island Activities

  • Tourists must bring their own food and drinks for the tour to lessen person-to-person contact. Take note that single-use plastics are prohibited so it is best to bring a reusable water bottle.
  • Always observe at least the minimum health protocols such as wearing of face masks and temperature checks upon entering establishments.
  • Observe proper physical distancing at all times. The new island hopping tours are designed to maintain a 3-meter physical distance off-boat.
  • Make sure to bring your ETDF ticket and QT-ID.
  • Keep your life jacket on at all times. Sharing is not allowed.
  • Bring your own mask and snorkel and other similar gear. Rentals are temporarily banned so if you want to go snorkeling, make sure you have your own.

Frequently Asked Questions about El Nido New Normal

1. Is there an age restriction for tourists?

No, leisure travel to El Nido is open to all ages as long as they don’t have any underlying health conditions.

2. Can I fly to Puerto Princesa instead?

As of now, Puerto Princesa International Airport is still closed to tourists. Tourists from outside of Palawan who wish to visit El Nido may only fly directly to Lio Airport.

3. Can I visit beaches and other tourist attractions in mainland El Nido?

Trips to mainland beaches are not yet an option. Only Island hopping and scuba diving are allowed provided that you have booked a tour with an accredited tour operator.

4. Can I opt to book tours after arriving in El Nido?

A travel itinerary from an accredited tour operator is required to be submitted to get your QT-ID. Hence, advanced booking of tours is required.

5. Is dining in allowed?

Dining in is currently not an option when you are in El Nido. Dining shall be facilitated by your hotel staff and food will be delivered to your hotel.

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Mariah Cruz
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I’ve been to El Nido and would go back. But these rules are so restrictive, it’s not worth going again.

For example, can you imagine paying P10,000 to P13,000 for a fast turnaround PCR test. And paying a minimum of P8000 for the Airswift round trip from Manila. You’re locked in to your (expensive?) lodge booking, even if you don’t like the place.

Then you hope some bureaucrat approves your application within that 48 hour window between the PCR result and your flight? In my experience, that would be a record turnaround for a public servant in this country.

The food and activities sound so restricted there’s no joy to be had once you get to El Nido. Do you really have to have your itinerary approved in advance? Food (from where?) arranged by your hotel?

The whole thing sounds like a tour to North Korea. Except the beaches are better.

I predict El Nido will see almost no business until COVID is under better control and restrictions are relaxed.