HOTELS in Boracay are offering as much as 75 percent discount in room rates to local tourists to offset the cost of RT-PCR or swab tests, which is a requirement for visitors going to the tourist spot, Aklan Gov. Florencio Miraflores yesterday said.
In a press briefing, Miraflor said the discount offer was reached during a recent dialogue among sector tourism players in the island.
“To offset the cost of RT-PCR test which is quite expensive, the tour operators and tourist establishments agreed to give as much as 75 percent discount in room rates,” he said, adding: “If you are going to stay here for four days, five nights, the cost of your RT-PCR test will be offset by the discount being given by our hotels here.”
Miraflor said the island had 35 guests when it reopened on Thursday last week. There were additional 47 and 53 tourist arrivals on Friday and Saturday, respectively.
“The number of tourist arrivals is slowly increasing,” said Miraflores, adding he expects the number of tourist arrivals to increase in the coming weeks and months. “Ang ganda ng beach at higit sa lahat safe na safe ang Boracay kasi hanggang ngayon COVID-free pa rin ang island ng Boracay (The beach is beautiful and most importantly, Boracay is very safe because Boracay is COVID-free up to now),” he said.
Miraflores said the provincial government has adopted measures to prevent the transmission of the virus to island visitors and local residents.
In case a tourist develops symptoms of COVID-19, Miraflores said facilities are ready to accommodate the visitor.
“We have all the facilities, our hospital is complete with facilities, our COVID response is complete in the island of Boracay,” he said.
Meanwhile, the local government of Malay in Aklan and the resort owners and business establishment operators in Boracay asked the national government to do the pilot testing of the antigen test, or saliva sampling, on guests visiting the island resort in a bid to increase the number of people visiting the beach destination.
Malay, Aklan Mayor Frolibar Bautista said requiring tourists to present a negative RT-PCR result that are not older than 48 hours before the travel date seem to have discouraged tourists from visiting the island. Henry Chusuey, of the Hennan Group of Resorts, said processes and requirements for guests should be made simpler to avoid discouraging tourists.
Bautista said some local tourists are complaining that the 48 hours requirement is too short and if a tourist wants the results of their RT-PCR test released immediately, they would be required to pay a hefty price.
Chusuey said the resort groups had asked the national government to pilot test the antigen in Boracay similar to what is already being done in Baguio City, which likewise opened its doors to Ilocos tourists last week.
“For PCR test you need to go to the hospital then you have to wait. Sometimes the results are late and it will be valid. If you use an antigen test at least it’s easy for tourists. You know that tourism is not so essential now. The more you give a hassle to them, the more people will not come,” Chusuey said.
He said that since the Boracay opened on October 1, only 20 of the 1,600 rooms that they have in the entire resort island has been occupied. – With Jocelyn Montemayor