‘Boracay bubble’ planned for these specific foreign tourists

Published March 19, 2021, 9:00 PM

by Alexandria Dennise San Juan

How about a “travel bubble” for Boracay-bound tourists? 

This set up is being eyed by the provincial government of Aklan and the Department of Tourism (DOT) in hopes of being able to welcome back foreign tourists to Boracay Island–the province’s top attraction–within the year.

Aklan Governor Florencio Miraflores said the local government has been working with the DOT for the possibility getting South Korean and Chinese tourists inside such bubble.

“However, this is still subject to the travel protocols of the concerned countries, the Philippines and our prospective foreign tourists,” Miraflores said in a recent press conference.

As vaccines against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) are being rolled out around the globe, Miraflores is optimistic that international arrivals will resume “anytime within the year.”

“Our Korean market is actually already preparing to come back. I was informed that they have been negotiating with the hotels in Boracay for their eventual return,” Miraflores shared.

“But of course, this is still subject to the BIATF (Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force) rules and regulations especially on DOT national for the entry of tourists,” he explained.

While discussions on the possibility of allowing foreign tourists in the country have yet to take place, domestic tourist arrivals in Boracay Island have been on the rise the past few weeks.

According to Miraflores, the increase in the number of local tourists coming to the island is noticeable especially when compared to when it first opened in October last year.

“Before, when we opened in October, we had around 40 or, at most, a hundred tourists coming to the island. Right now, the statistics show that we are registering almost a thousand tourist arrivals a day — mostly coming from Metro Manila,” the provincial governor said.

“We hope to sustain this in the near future especially now that the vaccines are here already. We hope that soon, the number of tourists that we have been entertaining before (the pandemic) will come back,” Miraflores added.

The BIATF allowed on Thursday, March 18, the use of cheaper and faster saliva-based COVID-19 test as one of the entry requirements for tourists bound for Boracay.

The move is seen to expedite the recovery of the tourism industry on the island, which is under a modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) — the most relaxed quarantine status in the country.