Oslob, Cebu’s Whale Sharks are Ready for a Reunion

The rules have been strengthened, not just for the glorious marine life we’ll be visiting, but also for the health and safety of guests and personnel: Social distancing between whale sharks and humans apply.

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The provincial government of Cebu began its gradual reopening of the tourism activities in the town of Oslob on 31 July 2020, a huge step toward revival and recovery of the tourism industry. Barangay Tan-awan, famous for its whale sharks and a ton of outdoor tourist activities, is welcoming guests again — provided they adhere to health protocols.

Because the rules have been strengthened, not just for the glorious marine life we’ll be visiting, but as measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. That means proper social distancing guidelines are in place, there’s a maximum daily limit of a thousand guests per day, whale shark interactions are allowed only from 6am to 12nn, and only 50% of the boat or banca’s maximum passenger-carrying capacity is allowed to set out, with only persons traveling in the same group allowed to board the same boat or banca.

Tourism establishments are assuring guests that life vests and other rented swimming equipment will be regularly sterilized, and boats and bancas will be disinfected after every use.

The usual dos and don’ts regarding interaction with the whale shark apply, with the foremost being: Do not touch the whale shark. You’re not even supposed to be within five meters of the whale shark, so absolutely do not touch the whale shark. Please do not touch the whale shark. You are absolutely not allowed to touch the whale shark. The whale shark does not require your touch to understand that you are a friend. (Hands off the coral, too!)

Also, there’s a penalty of Php2,500 or imprisonment of four up to six months for anyone caught touching the whale sharks and violating any of the other rules.

Oslob has also re-launched other tourism activities like snorkeling, trekking, diving, and island-hopping.

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