MANILA (UPDATE) - The tourism department on Sunday, World Tourism Day, urged travelers to tourist paradise Boracay to comply with minimum health requirements to keep the island free of COVID-19.
Boracay will begin accepting tourists from all over the country on Oct. 1, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat earlier said.
Its visitors must have a negative confirmatory test for the coronavirus two to three days prior their travel, she said.
“'Pag nandoon sa Boracay, dapat natin maalala na may COVID pa rin. So, dapat palaging wear a mask, dapat may physical distancing na at least 1 meter, at saka, always wash your hands," she told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo.
(When they're in Boracay, they have to remember that COVID still exists. So, they have to wear a mask, they have to observe physical distancing of at least 1 meter, and they have to always wash their hands.)
"Nakasalalay rin ito sa mga turista. Be responsible travelers, may COVID pa."
(This also rests on tourists. Be responsible travelers, COVID still exists.)
Airlines will check the travel documents of tourists, who will be given a QR code upon arrivial in Boracay, Romulo-Puyat said.
The agency will discuss later Sunday the maximum number of alcoholic drinks to be served to tourists, she added.
"Paunti-unti, we will calibrate, kasi dapat mag-ingat talaga. Yes, nakaka-travel na sila. Yes, may fresh air. Pero, dapat natin maalala na zero COVID na sa Boracay, at panatilihin natin that way. We have to be responsible travelers," she said.
(Little by little, we will calibrate, because we really have to be careful. Yes, they can travel. Yes, they can have fresh air. But we should remember that Boracay has zero COVID-19 cases, and we should keep it that way.)
In her message for World Tourism Day, Romulo-Puyat said the Philippines was given the time to close its tourism to "transform the crisis into an opportunity; a chance to rebuild tourism on the foundation of safety, sustainability, inclusiveness, and resiliency."
"This gradual revival of the industry will bring back jobs and livelihoods to the rural areas, where many of our tourism products, such as beach, diving, ecotourism, arts and culture, and farm sites are found," she said.
"Let us remain steadfast in our commitment to pursue equitable and responsible growth as the legacy of our industry."
Romulo-Puyat also cited UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres who she said "asserted that tourism has been a vehicle for integration, empowerment, and income generation for rural communities."
"Our tourism industry in the Philippines has been promoting the inclusive development of the countryside, supporting our farmers, Indigenous Peoples, women, and other marginalized groups through sustainable programs that uplift and empower," she said.
The Philippines as of Saturday reported 301,256 cases of COVID-19, with 232,906 recoveries and 5,284 deaths.