Only 26 tourists, seven from Metro Manila, arrived in Boracay Island on its reopening day on Thursday, Oct. 1.
The provincial government of Aklan said there were originally 95 tourists who were expected to arrive in the island last Oct. 1 but others failed to comply with the travel requirements.
Other guests came from Iloilo and provinces in the Western Visayas region.
But Tourism chief Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said they are expecting more visitors to come to the island as Undas season is fast approaching.
In a television interview, she said Boracay hotels have started taking in bookings from tourists for the upcoming holidays.
She said the island’s reopening “is a crucial first step” to domestic tourism recovery, providing the momentum for domestic tourism all over the country, adding that it gives the country’s tourism industry a glimmer of hope, especially for those counting on tourism to survive.
“What could be a better way to herald the revival of Philippine tourism than the reopening of the world-renowned Boracay Island?” she said.
But even with the reopening of the country’s top tourist destination, the tourism secretary stressed that safety and well-being of tourists and residents remain the top priority of the Department of Tourism (DOT).
“We advise all tourists to be on strict quarantine immediately after the PCR test and until the time of travel to the island. This is to help ensure that they will remain free of COVID-19 before they visit Boracay,” she said.
She also urged 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,” she added.
Meanwhile, during Thursday’s press briefing, the Aklan local government unit (LGU) announced the resumption of all water sports activities, including island-hopping tours, provided that visitors will observe the mandatory health and safety protocols.
But Puyat said Boracay will not accept international tourists in the meantime despite the proposed move from the local heads of the province as the DOT will focus first on the revival of the country’s domestic tourism industry.