The reopening of Boracay Island to more local tourists on October 1 will further build momentum for the country’s domestic tourism, according to Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat.
This development came as a result of a special meeting convened by the Boracay Interagency Task Force (BIATF) led by its Chairperson, Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu, Co-Vice Chairpersons, Puyat and Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año, with Province of Aklan Governor Florencio Miraflores Jr. Tuesday evening.
“The reopening of Boracay to new market sources signals a gathering momentum for domestic tourism all over the country. We are pleased that the BIATF and the LGUs of the Province of Aklan and Municipality of Malay have agreed to put health and safety as top priority as we carefully and safely welcome guests to the island,” she said.
During the said meeting, BIATF leaders approved an earlier request of Aklan Province to further reopen Boracay to domestic travelers apart from tourists from Western Visayas that have been permitted to visit the island since June 16.
But the tourism chief said the test before travel regulation will be implemented to allow visitors from destinations with General Community Quarantine (GCQ) classification to also visit the island.
The National Capital Region (NCR), Bulacan and Batangas in Luzon, and the cities of Tacloban and Bacolod are the only remaining areas placed under GCQ.
Age restriction is likewise relaxed permitting travelers below 21 and above 60 years old with no comorbidity.
“Targeting a safe and calibrated resumption of tourism business, several measures have been prescribed by the Task Force that include Test Before Travel requiring a negative RT-PCR result 48 to 72 hours prior to travel to Boracay. Also, travelers will be advised to go on strict quarantine immediately after a test until the time of travel to the island,” Puyat said.
But foreign travelers who wish to visit the island are still restricted as the DOT is concentrating first on the revival of domestic tourism. Puyat also said they have yet to discuss the docking of cruise ships in the island.
Another key agreement advises airlines to use the Godofredo P. Ramos Airport in Caticlan, Municipality of Malay as the only airport of entry in moving tourists to the island.
Meanwhile, the minimum health and safety guidelines (HSG) in place and in accordance with the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) and national government mandates will be subjected to continued enhancement. The Province of Aklan had earlier rolled out stringent protocols in receiving guests from Western Visayas as well as strict guidelines in handling COVID-19 related emergencies.
A COVID-19 laboratory is now operating at the Dr. Rafael S. Tumbokon Memorial Hospital in Kalibo, Aklan and forms part of the network of facilities and services needed in a safe environment for host communities, business stakeholders, and tourists.
“In fact, the DOT had earlier coordinated with the FILINVEST Corporate City Foundation, Inc, for its donation of an RT-PCR machine to the Province of Aklan. Similarly, we worked with the Tulong Kapatid , the social responsibility consortium of the MVP Group of Companies, for several projects to include the donation of medical equipment and extension of training that will level up the Ciriaco S. Tirol Hospital in Boracay from an infirmary to a level 1 trauma hospital.” Puyat added.
Since the island’s reopening to travelers form Western Visayas last June 16, the DOT has already issued Certificates of Authority to Operate (CAO) to 199 hotels and resorts representing 4,416 rooms.