Top News Trickle of tourists as Boracay reopens to domestic travellers By TTG Asia / Posted on 2 October, 2020 17:22 Boracay has reopened to tourists from the general community quarantine (GCQ) areas on Thursday (October 1), signalling a significant stride towards restarting the Philippines’ tourism industry amid the pandemic. The island has been open to visitors from Western Visayas since June, and tourism secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said the island’s reopening to a wider market marks “a crucial first step” for jumpstarting domestic tourism recovery across the country. This gives the country’s tourism industry a glimmer of hope, especially for those counting on tourism to survive, she added. Boracay Island reopens to tourists from general community quarantine areas under strict health protocols “What could be a better way to herald the revival of Philippine tourism than the reopening of the world-renowned Boracay Island?” she said. On its reopening day, the island welcomed 19 tourists, including seven from metro Manila and five from Aklas, according to data from the municipal tourism office of Malay. Despite the low visitor count, Puyat told The Philippine Star that the gradual entry of tourists on the island would allow the government to test its health and safety protocols. Having welcomed Western Visayas visitors since June, the island has reported zero Covid-19 cases, according to Puyat, promising government support in ensuring that health and safety protocols are in place. The Department of Tourism (DOT), the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force (BIATF), along with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources secretary Roy Cimatu and Department of Interior and Local Government secretary Eduardo Ano, the province of Aklan and the municipality of Malay have implemented enhanced hygiene and safety protocols in entry points, accommodations and activities, Puyat said. “We advise all tourists to be on strict quarantine immediately after the (Covid-19) 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 added. Puyat reiterated that while the age restriction has been relaxed to allow travellers below 21 and above 60 years old, only those without underlying medical conditions and with documentation of negative Covid-19 test results taken 48 hours before travel to the island will be allowed to enter the island through the Godofredo P. Ramos Airport in Caticlan. A confirmed booking in a DOT-accredited accommodation establishment, air tickets, and documentation of the negative Covid-19 test result should be submitted online, through http://aklan.gov.ph, for the approval of the Aklan provincial government. Each visitor who is cleared to travel to the island will then be issued a unique personal QR code for monitoring. The tourism chief urged the island’s guests to comply to the health and safety protocols in order to ensure the success of Boracay’s reopening. “We urge our 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,” said Puyat. Meanwhile, DOT-accredited hotels will each have a designated health and safety officer who will call the Boracay Covid Hotline number 152 should any of the guests exhibit symptoms of the virus. The data from the QR code system will be used to identify the close contacts, should a guest test positive for the coronavirus while on the island.