ILOILO CITY – Boracay Island’s health protocols could serve as an example for other domestic tourist destinations to follow when the time comes that it would be their turn to reopen their doors to visitors.
This was the assessment made by Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat after the resort island welcomed back visitors last October 1.
“All eyes are on Boracay on how the protocols are in place. If this is successful, maybe other also want to reopen,” said Puyat in an online press conference after the reopening of Boracay Island.
She noted that the return of visitors to the country’s famous beach desination was “critical” as it could pave the way for the revival of domestic tourism in the country, which has been badly hit by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
Puyat particularly mentioned local government units (LGUs) which may be able to learn from Boracay, which is situated in Malay town, Aklan.
She cited how the Aklan provincial government, under Governor Florencio Miraflores, and the local government of Malay town under Mayor Frolibar Bautista were able to institute health protocols that were aligned with the national government’s task force on COVID-19 that enabled them to reopen the resort island and pump-prime the economy that heavily relied on Boracay’s tourism earnings.
While incoming tourists were required to present a COVID-19 negative test result, one of the key factors in Boracay’s tourism was the use of the QR code system developed by the Aklan provincial government.
The QR code is basically the health declaration form used from the time a visitor arrives in Aklan—whether by land, air or sea. Visitors and even government workers have to use it the moment they cross to Boracay and check in to any resort, hotel or restaurant.
Business establishments are also strict in getting information of clients, which would make it easier for health officials to conduct contact tracing if there would be a positive case in the future.
The Malay local government also deployed 100 beach guards to enforce local ordinances including the minimum health standard of wearing face masks and physical distancing.
At least 35 tourists visited Boracay when it opened last October 1. The Malay Tourism Office found that 19 were from the city and province of Iloilo, 10 from other towns of Aklan province,
19 from Metro Manila, and one from Roxas City.
Meanwhile, Puyat said she was expecting that more tourists will visit Boracay by end of October or early November.