Authorities are loosening coronavirus-related travel restrictions to give the local tourism industry a lift.
Officials from the Philippines’ Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases, in charge of the national response to the Covid-19 pandemic, have announced that the island of Boracay will start welcoming tourists from areas under general community quarantine next month. This move paves the way for residents of Metro Manila to go on a much-needed beach vacation in the Visayas.
Leisure travelers from the Philippine capital—and indeed much of the archipelagic country—have not been able to set foot on Boracay since March. Following a three-month shutdown, June 16 saw the island reopen to local visitors from the Western Visayas: specifically, the provinces of Aklan (where the island is located), Capiz, Guimaras, Iloilo, and Negros Occidental. Temporary age restrictions were also imposed, with children, teenagers, and the elderly temporarily barred from Boracay: only those between 22 and 59 years old have been allowed to come ashore.
Now, prospective visitors must carry a negative result for Covid-19 through a PCR test conducted between 48 and 72 hours before departure. Tourism minister Bernadette Romulo-Puyat has urged Boracay-bound travelers to stay at home after taking their swab tests to minimize the risk of exposure to the virus. Another requirement is to pre-book accommodation; officials say that over 200 hotels and resorts on the island have already reopened, accounting for about 4,000 rooms in total. Travelers must arrive through Caticlan Airport, which is now equipped with an isolation facility where incoming passengers with Covid-19 symptoms will be held and tested again for the virus.
Domestic tourists will have to follow expected health protocols, like undergoing temperature checks, adhering to physical distancing guidelines, and wearing face masks while out and about. No announcement has been made on when the Philippines’ most celebrated beach destination will reopen to international travelers. Boracay welcomed just over two million visitors last year, more than half of which were foreign arrivals, including 434,000 Chinese nationals and 400,000 South Koreans.