Boracay reopens: 7 visitors from Metro Manila

Catherine Talavera - The Philippine Star
Boracay reopens: 7 visitors from Metro Manila
Boracay during the reopening to local tourists from GCQ and MGCQ areas yesterday.
Photo courtesy of ‘What the Pack?!’ by Peter Packy and Ryan Molina

MANILA, Philippines — As Boracay island welcomed domestic tourists from Metro Manila yesterday, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat cited the critical role of the island’s reopening in restarting tourism destinations across the country.

“All the other tourist destinations, even if these are under MGCQ (modified general community quarantine), they are still hesitant to open to tourists outside of their province. So all eyes are on Boracay, how the protocols will be in place,” Puyat said.

She said seven tourists from Metro Manila arrived in Boracay yesterday through a Cebu Pacific flight to Caticlan.

Despite the minimal number, she said the gradual entry of tourists on the island would enable the government to test its health and safety protocols.

“I’m expecting that more people will come during the All Saints’ Day celebration. It’s better now that they’re coming little by little. It will be hard if people rush in and we’re not prepared,” Puyat said.

The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) had earlier approved the opening of Boracay to tourists from general community quarantine (GCQ) areas and those with lower quarantine levels starting yesterday.

Puyat said there were no reported coronavirus cases on the island and promised government support in ensuring that health and safety protocols are in place.

She stressed that the well-being of tourists and residents remains the top priority of the Department of Tourism (DOT).

“The DOT, the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force, Department of Environment and Natural Resources under Secretary Roy Cimatu, Department of the Interior and Local Government under Secretary Eduardo Año, the province of Aklan and the municipality of Malay have implemented enhanced hygiene and safety protocols in entry points, accommodations and activities,” Puyat said.

“We advise all tourists to be on strict quarantine immediately after the PCR test and until the time of travel to the island to ensure that they will remain COVID-19 free before they visit Boracay,” she added.

Before traveling to the island, tourists are required to have a negative RT-PCR result within 48 to 72 hours.

Puyat reiterated that while 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.

“A confirmed booking in a DOT-accredited accommodation establishment, air tickets and negative test results should be submitted online, through http://aklan.gov.ph, for the approval of the Aklan provincial government,” the DOT said.

It added that each visitor who is cleared to travel to the island would be issued a personal QR code for monitoring.

Puyat stressed that while health and safety protocols have been put in place, the success of Boracay reopening will largely depend on 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,” Puyat said.

The DOT added that 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 close contacts, should a guest test positive for the coronavirus while on the island,” it said.

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