Boracay eyes scrapping COVID test requirement for fully jabbed tourists

Published October 22, 2021, 3:57 PM

by Alexandria Dennise San Juan

The provincial government of Aklan is planning to lift the RT-PCR test requirement for fully vaccinated tourists visiting Boracay Island by next month, Governor Florencio Miraflores said on Friday, Oct. 22.

Kids swim at the famous beach front of Boracay Island when the country’s most famous beach destination reopened to local tourists in October 2020. (Tara Yap/File/Manila Bulletin)

This, as the local government expects to inoculate the entire population of tourism workers and adult residents in the island by the end of October.

“Once the island is fully vaccinated, we will now allow tourists from other places in the country that are fully vaccinated [to enter even without] the required RT-PCR test result in order to revive our tourism industry,” Miraflores said during the meeting of the Boracay Inter-agency Task Force.

Miraflores is optimistic that they can reach the target 100-percent vaccination rate by the end of the month to allow more Filipinos to travel in time with the holiday season.

“By the end of the month or early next month, we will issue the necessary executive order that we will scrap the RT-PCR test requirement so tourists will have a chance to visit the island this holiday season,” he said.

Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, who also attended the virtual briefing, supported the idea and lauded the local government’s vaccination efforts.

“We hope it can be implemented by the end of the month kasi, to be fair kay Governor Miraflores at Mayor [Floribar] Bautista, mabilis sila magbakuna (the island has fast vaccination rollout, thanks to Governor Miraflores and Mayor Bautista),” she said.

According to Puyat, a total of 11,668 out of the 12,800 tourism frontliners in Boracay have already completed their COVID-19 jabs. They expect to fully vaccinate the remaining workers within the month.

“Boracay will be the first tourist island destination that will have 100 percent vaccinated not only tourism workers but also residents in the whole country by the end of the month,” Puyat noted.

Meanwhile, the DOT chief said Boracay’s daily carrying capacity remained at 19,000 tourists as set by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

Miraflores shared that Boracay Island only registers an average of around 700 tourists per day compared to almost 6,000 before the pandemic.

“We need all the tourists to come to Boracay. We are barely scratching the surface,” he said.

“We will ensure the recovery of the island. We will make the island only available to all individuals — both tourists and residents — that are fully vaccinated to protect the province and the island and to ensure complete recovery of our tourism industry,” Miraflores added.