Tourists from Metro Manila may soon be allowed to visit Boracay

Local tourists, even those coming from areas under general community quarantine (GCQ) like the National Capital Region (NCR), might soon be allowed to visit Boracay Island. 

(Tara Yap/Manila Bulletin)

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat confirmed Tuesday evening that the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force (BIATF) has approved the request of Aklan Gov. Florencio Miraflores Jr. to reopen Boracay not just to Visayas residents but also those coming from GCQ areas like Metro Manila. 

Other areas placed under GCQ until Sept. 30 include Bulacan and Batangas in Luzon and the cities of Tacloban and Bacolod in Visayas. 

But the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) has yet to approve the decision on Thursday. 

“I am pretty sure matutuloy ito,” Puyat said, citing also that she will start talking with the local airlines about this development. 

She said tourists who plan to visit Boracay will be required to submit negative swab test results done through real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) 48 to 72 hours prior to their departure from their respective home locations. 

But Puyat said once approved, foreign visitors will still be restricted from entering the country for leisure travel.

Boracay Island tops the list of the most in demand major Philippine destinations for the foreign markets like South Korea, Japan, China, and the United States. 

The DOT is also concentrating on rebuilding first the domestic tourism economy. 

Though the tourism chief recognizes the risks of traveling amidst the dreaded novel coronavirus disease, she previously said it has to be a balance between health and economy. 

“I am happy that finally we are restarting tourism. It’s all about jobs. Tourism is one of the most affected and  we hope that restart of tourism especially in Boracay will bring back jobs but health and safety protocols have to be in place,” she stressed.