MVP unit, DOT to improve Boracay health service
Catherine Talavera (The Philippine Star) - March 16, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Tourism (DOT) has partnered with Tulong Kapatid,the social responsibility arm of the MVP Group, to improve Boracay island’s health and communications portfolio.

“What we have really laid out is to address major issues that we’ve been grappling with for a while specially in destinations like Boracay,” Tourism Undersecretary Arturo Boncato Jr. said.

Under the partnership, the Makati Medical Foundation, along with SMART, the PLDT-Smart Foundation, and the Metro Pacific Foundation are donating a total of 60 automated sensor hand sanitizers to hospital, airport, seaport terminals, and other public places in the island.

In addition,Tulong Kapatid HEART (Health and Emergency Response Team) stations will also be placed throughout Boracay.

Meanwhile, the Makati Medical Foundation and its private sector partners donated medical equipment that will level up the Ciriaco S. Tirol Hospital from an infirmary to a level 1 trauma hospital.

“Long-term trainings and technology transfer will also be conducted, including the implementation of a pandemic preparedness program to help bring back tourism confidence here in Boracay from a health security perspective,”the DOT said.

Moreover, Smart Communications provided Boracay and other DOT regional offices with mobile SAT phones, which aid communication during calamities or other emergencies when the normal 2G signal and internet network are down.

“The DOT acknowledges the initiatives of the private sector in improving the living conditions on the island,” Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said.

“The threat that COVID-19 poses is serious and we are not taking it lightly.

However, we must stress that travel around the Philippines is still possible and reasonably safe when all recommended health protocols and precautionary measures are strictly observed,” Puyat said.

Daily tourist arrivals in Boracay is currently down by about 82 percent due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Boncato.

“Last year, average arrivals per day stood at 5,600. This time, arrivals plunged to 1,000 per day,”Boncato said.

The DOT earlier acknowledged that foreign arrivals are expected to decline as the Philippines is implementing a temporary travel ban on China and its special administrative regions Hong Kong and Macau, as well as the North Gyeongsang province of South Korea amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

Data from the Bureau of Immigration (BI) shows that foreign arrivals in February have already dropped by nearly 42 percent to 418,126 from 713,394 in the same month last year.

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