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Boracay tourists may walk in for COVID-19 boosters — DOT chief

Rosette Adel - Philstar.com
Boracay tourists may walk in for COVID-19 boosters â DOT chief
This Feb. 11, 2021 photo shows a child getting vaccinated against COVID-19 in Boracay, Aklan.
NTF Against COVID-19 / Released

MANILA, Philippines — A pharmacy in the world-famous Boracay island is now accommodating fully vaccinated local and tourists to have their booster shots against COVID-19.

On Friday, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said these tourists can walk in and have their booster shots administered by licensed pharmacists on the island.

The government launched the Resbakuna sa Botika Program in Boracay, in partnership with one of the country’s leading drug stores, Watsons.

The tourism secretary joined National Task Force Against COVID-19 (NTF) Chief Implementer Carlito Galvez Jr, NTF Deputy Chief Implementer and testing czar Vince Dizon, Office of the President Assistant for the Visayas Undersecretary Anthony Gerard Gonzales  Aklan Gov. Florencio Miraflores and Malay Mayor Floribar Bautista in the launch at the Watson’s Pharmacy City Mall Boracay.

They also launched the pediatric vaccination of children aged 5 to 11, Resbakuna Kids on the island at the Paradise Garden Resort.

Puyat said the two Resbakuna programs would add protection to visitors with the anticipated influx of visitors after the country opened its borders to inbound leisure travel last February 10. She said the nation has been waiting for this for nearly two years.

Early this week, she said the Philippines has been ready for international travel since 2020.

Before the country shut down its borders, Philippines registered 8.26 million tourist arrivals in 2019. The COVID-19 lockdown, however, dried up the travel and tourism sector and only recorded 1.48 million visitors in 2020

“We expect Boracay Island, our crown jewel of tourism, to once again fill up with travelers from around the world. The Resbakuna sa Botika Program will provide an added layer of protection to the island’s domestic visitors. This will impact on the tourism industry and all the Filipinos whose livelihoods depend on tourism,” Puyat said. 

“Without a doubt, this program, which makes it even more convenient for the island’s population to gain access to life-saving vaccine, will help bring the boosted vaccination rate closer to 100 percent much faster than before,” she added.  

As of February 10, the DOT said there are a total of 17,910 tourism workers or 102.51% of the target population of tourism workers that have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

On the other hand, 2,671 individuals or 15.29% have received the COVID-19 booster shots.

Model destination for vaccination

Puyat lauded the local chief executives of Aklan and Malay town for the high vaccination rate.

“This number is expected to boost the confidence of tourists in traveling to Boracay, knowing that the people who make their stay wonderful are protected,” she said.

Galvez said the island can become a model destination when it comes to COVID-19 vaccination.

"You now harvest the fruits of your labor, first time now that we heard na zero ang COVID-19 cases dito. Despite the movement of people, talagang nakikita natin ‘yung effect ng vaccine na it really saves lives and prevents severe [cases] and hospitalization," Galvez said.

"Dahil 100% na ang ating vaccination dito, we encourage the people of Boracay and Aklan, na kayo ulit ang maging model ng 100% na boosted [population],” he added

Aside from the COVID-19 vaccination of essential workers, tourists and children, Puyat also said the Department of Tourism’s Boracay Filed Office is conducting inspections to ensure that minimum health and safety guidelines are observed.

The office is also holding inspections related to accreditation and Safety Seal certifications.

“As of February 7, a total 81 accommodation establishments and one travel and tour agency/operator in Boracay have been certified under the Safety Seal program. A total of 24 entities—including the island itself as a tourist destination – have received the Safe Travels Stamp from the World Travel and Tourism Council,” the DOT said.

Puyat also said there are 12,956 rooms in 314 accredited accommodation establishments in Boracay are available for local and foreign guests alike. 

New tourism offerings in Boracay

Meanwhile, Puyat said that the agency will introduce new tourism products on the island that would “cater to demands of tourists in this new era of travel”. 

Among these tourism offerings are Boracay Food Crawl, billed as a “deconstructed” experience featuring the island’s diverse cuisineas well as the Boracay Wellness Workation Program for those who want to work remotely on the island. , 

The tourism chief said she looking forward to discussing with stakeholders how the DOT can improve Boracay’s recovery.

“It’s always good to hear your perspective and opinions on the situation. I assure you, the DOT respectfully takes these into account whenever we formulate our policies and programs to bring forth a safer, stronger, and more inclusive tourism industry,” she said.  

BERNADETTE ROMULO-PUYAT

BORACAY

CARLITO GALVEZ JR.

COVID-19 VACCINATION

DEPARTMENT OF TOURISM

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