For beach-loving Filipinos missing the sea, here is some good news: Boracay will reopen for tourists all over the country next month.
Yesterday, Sept. 22, the Boracay Inter-agency Task Force (BIATF) composed of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Roy Cimatu, Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año and Department of Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat met with Aklan Governor Florencio Miraflores to finalize this development.
According to Puyat, “The reopening of Boracay to new market sources signals a gathering momentum for domestic tourism all over the country.” She also added that the decision prioritized health and safety above all.
During its initial opening on June 16, only residents of Western Visayas were allowed to visit the island. With the new development, all Filipinos residing in an area under general community quarantine (GCQ) will now be welcomed under certain conditions.
‘Test before travel’
A requisite step before enjoying a stay in the popular tourist destination will be a negative RT-PCR result 48 to 72 hours prior to traveling to Boracay.
After the test, you will also be required to go on a “strict quarantine” until your scheduled travel to Aklan. Oh, and note that local airlines will only be allowed to enter upon landing at the Godofredo P. Ramos Airport in Caticlan, Municipality of Malay. It is the designated airport of entry in moving tourists to the island, DOT said in a statement.
Relaxed age restriction
Filipino tourists below 21 and above 60 will also be allowed entry as long as they don’t have comorbidities or existing chronic diseases like lung or heart disease, diabetes or conditions that affect their immune system. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), said demographic is vulnerable to COVID-19.
According to DOT, minimum health and safety guidelines already in place in the province of Aklan in accordance with Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) and national government mandates. At the same time, these guidelines will be subjected to continued enhancement.
“The Province of Aklan had earlier rolled out stringent protocols in receiving guests from Western Visayas as well as strict guidelines in handling COVID-19 related emergencies,” the agency said.
In a statement, DOT also shared that a COVID-19 laboratory is now operational at the Dr. Rafael S. Tumbokon Memorial Hospital in Kalibo, Aklan. “[It’s] a part of the network of facilities and services needed in a safe environment for host communities, business stakeholders, and tourists.”
Where to stay
If you are worried there will be no hotels to accommodate you in your stay on the island, fret not. According to Puyat, some 199 hotels and resorts with a total of 4,416 rooms have been operational since June.
Check the list of accommodation establishments in Western Visayas with Certificate of Authority to Operate/Provisional Certificate of Authority to Operate as of Sept. 21 here.
With that, travel at your own risk and have a safe and hopefully COVID-free vacation.
Header photo courtesy of Malay Municipal Tourism Office – Aklan Facebook page
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Writer: CHRISTIAN SAN JOSE