MANILA (UPDATE) – Boracay Island will reopen to tourists coming from Western Visayas on June 16, the task force leading the rehabilitation of the island announced Thursday, in a bid to reboot tourism due to the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Halos more than a month nang walang COVID sa Boracay. Ready na actually ang Boracay. Maganda na rin ang kanilang protocol pagpasok so we are quite excited na i-showcase uli ang Boracay,” Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said in a press briefing.
(It's been more than a month since no COVID-19 case has been reported in Boracay. Boracay is actually ready. The protocol in place upon entry is good so we are quite excited to showcase it again.)
The Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force, together with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), and the Department of Tourism (DOT), on Thursday approved the recommendation of the provincial government of Aklan on the gradual reopening of Boracay.
With the eased restrictions, Boracay will implement cashless transaction and physical distancing, among others, as precautionary measures against the virus. Persons below 21 years old and above 60 are temporarily barred from visiting the island.
“Eventually, ang dream ko ay i-open na rin siya to other countries na COVID-free din para we can open up to international tourists,” Puyat said.
(Eventually, my dream is to open it to other countries that are COVID-free so we can open up to international tourists.)
The world-renowned island was closed to tourists in March to curb the spread of COVID-19, which has so far sickened 24,175 people in the Philippines.
Aklan Governor Florencio Miraflores earlier agreed to reopen the island to revive the region's tourism industry.
"We don’t want to open it to the rest of the country first. But we are willing to open it within Western Visayas," Miraflores had said.
"The rest of June, we will be preparing for the eventual opening. And maybe, by July, we will be ready for domestic tourism in Western Visayas," he added.
So far, 3 hotels on the island have been accredited to resume operations once tourists are allowed to enter.
Currently, swimming in Boracay is limited only to the island's residents.
Tourist arrivals in February for the island dropped by 40 percent to 103,834 from the 172,695 recorded in the same month in 2019, data from the Malay Municipal Tourism Office showed.
The island was closed for 6 months in 2018 for massive rehabilitation.
- With a report from Michael Delizo, ABS-CBN News