Boracay reopens to neighboring provinces

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    THE reopening of Boracay, the country’s top tourism 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 yesterday said.

    Puyat said the island’s reopening “is a crucial first step” to the recovery of domestic tourism and gives the country’s tourism industry a glimmer of hope, especially for players in tourism and tourism-related industries.

    “What could be a better way to herald the revival of Philippine tourism than the reopening of the world-renowned Boracay Island?” she said, as she noted that the island enjoys the distinction of having no reported coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases.

    Puyat said the Department of Tourism (DOT), in partnership with the local government of Malay, Aklan and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), would ensure that health and safety protocols will be strictly enforced in the island destination for the safety and well-being of tourists and residents.

    “The DOT, the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force (BIATF) with (DENR) Secretary Roy Cimatu and (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año, the province of Aklan and the municipality of Malay had 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,” she said.

    After accepting visitors from Western Visayas in June, the BIATF has now allowed visitors from other regions under 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 (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 said 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 (while) on vacation, we must adhere to the minimum health protocols. Let’s wear our mask when possible,” said Puyat.