The reopening of Boracay, the Philippines’ top destination, to new market sources signals the safe and gradual revival of the country’s tourism industry amid the pandemic, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said Thursday (Oct. 1).
She said the island’s reopening “is a crucial first step” to domestic tourism recovery, providing the momentum for domestic tourism all over the country. This, she added, gives the country’s tourism industry a glimmer of hope, especially for those counting on tourism to survive.
“What could be a better way to herald the revival of Philippine tourism than the reopening of the world-renowned Boracay Island?” she said.
Puyat noted that there were no reported coronavirus (COVID-19) cases on the island and promised government support in ensuring that health and safety protocols are in place. She stressed that the safety and well-being of tourists and residents remain the top priority of the Department of Tourism (DOT).
She said: “The DOT, the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force (BIATF) with Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy Cimatu and Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Ano, the province of Aklan and the municipality of Malay have implemented enhanced hygiene and safety protocols in entry points, accommodations and activities. We advise all tourists to be on strict quarantine immediately after the PCR test and until the time of travel to the island. This is to help ensure that they will remain free of COVID-19 before they visit Boracay.”
After accepting visitors from Western Visayas in June, the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force has now allowed visitors from other regions under a general community quarantine (GCQ) classification to enter Boracay.
In a press conference Thursday, Puyat reiterated that while the age restriction has been relaxed to allow travelers below 21 and above 60 years old, only those without underlying medical conditions and those with negative RT-PCR results will be allowed to enter the island through the Godofredo P. Ramos Airport in Caticlan. The test should be taken at least 48 hours before travel to the island.
A confirmed booking in a DOT-accredited accommodation establishment, air tickets, and the negative test results should be submitted online, through http://aklan.gov.ph, for the approval of the Aklan provincial government. Each visitor who is cleared to travel to the island will then be issued a unique personal QR code for monitoring.
The tourism chief added that while health and safety protocols have been put in place, the success of Boracay reopening will largely depend on one important factor: the compliance and cooperation of the island’s guests. “We urge our visitors to be responsible tourists. Follow the guidelines, respect the rules. We can never be too complacent, even on vacation, we must adhere to the minimum health protocols. Let’s wear our mask when possible,” said Puyat.
Meanwhile, DOT- accredited hotels will each have a designated health and safety officer who will call the Boracay COVID Hotline number 152 should any of the guests exhibit symptoms of the virus. The data from the QR code system will be used to identify the close contacts, should a guest test positive for the coronavirus while on the island.
The DOT facilitated the turnover of essential medical equipment to ensure the readiness of the destination in handling COVID-related concerns. Among these were the donations from the Makati Medical Center group, which included training for the local medical staff at the Ciriaco S. Tirol Hospital and Boracay Clinic. In addition to this, the Filinvest City Foundation, in partnership with Crimson Hotel Boracay’s RT-PCR machine donations, were turned over to the Covid-19 Laboratory being completed at the Dr. Rafael Tumbokon Memorial Hospital in Kalibo.