NCR’s reversal to ECQ hurting Philippine tourism

Elijah Felice Rosales (The Philippine Star) - April 7, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Tourist destinations nationwide are reeling from Metro Manila’s reversal to enhanced community quarantine as the number of visitor arrivals collapsed during the first week of the ECQ implementation.

In Boracay, only 836 tourists visited the island during the Holy Week, or from March 29 to April 4, as the regions where its visitors originate are under ECQ.

Data from the Malay Tourism Office showed that nine in every 10 travelers who arrived on the island last week came from Boracay‘s home region of Western Visayas.

Even people from areas under general community quarantine (GCQ) are barred from going on leisure trips.

The amended omnibus guidelines issued by the government on March 28 prohibited movement for leisure of people in GCQ areas.

In compliance with the directive, the local government of Malay no longer accepts tourists from areas under GCQ.

Only visitors from areas under modified GCQ are allowed on the island.

Flights from Manila to Caticlan are suspended until April 11 due to the ECQ extension in Metro Manila and the nearby provinces.

The Malay Tourism Office yesterday reiterated its request to Boracay hotel operators to relax their change booking and cancellation policies.

The city government of Baguio also retained its policy of limiting the operations of all tourism enterprises at 50 percent until April 10.

The restriction covers food and beverage establishments and ancillary services with accommodations.

Baguio extended the travel ban for tourists from areas under ECQ.

Only essential workers from the NCR Plus Bubble and who are on official business are allowed to enter the summer capital.

Super spreader event

Meanwhile, the Department of Tourism (DOT) reiterated its stance that Boracay should remain open despite reports that a tourist from Metro Manila hosted a super spreader event on the island.

In a statement issued yesterday, the DOT vowed to work with authorities and tourism enterprises in Boracay to prevent a repeat of mass gatherings that can cause an outbreak of the virus.

It said there is no need to close Boracay in the wake of surging infections across the country.

The agency said visitors and hosts should ensure compliance with minimum health standards set by the government.

The DOT commended the local government of Malay in Aklan for responding to the issue as soon as it was informed about the reported super spreader event in Boracay.

Last week the local government reported that the sudden spike in COVID infections in Boracay could be attributed to a tourist from Metro Manila.

The tourists arrived on the island on March 10 and hosted a party with the locals. He fell ill on March 30, about two weeks after returning home from the trip.

Those who attended the party manifested symptoms as early as March 16.

The local government said it was the first case of tourist-to-local transmission it recorded since Boracay opened to domestic tourists in October.

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