Pandemic-related age restrictions for Boracay trips scrapped
ILOILO CITY—The government has scrapped age restrictions for Western Visayas tourists going to Boracay Island in a bid to revive travel to the country’s prime tourist destination.
Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said in a statement that the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) approved on July 23 a recommendation of the Department of Tourism (DOT) to exempt tourists going to the island from the ban on those below 21 years old and above 60 years old.
“This move aims to further reinvigorate the tourism economy in the region and address the earlier clamor of Boracay tourism stakeholders to attract more tourists to the island,” Puyat said.
After three months of quarantine measures, Boracay Island was reopened to tourists from Western Visayas on June 16.
The region is composed of the provinces of Aklan, Antique, Capiz, Guimaras, Iloilo and Negros Occidental.
But tourist arrivals from June 16 to 22 reached only 48 amid lingering concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic.
The island’s reopening to tourists was also complicated by the unauthorized travel by Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) employees from Western Visayas.
One of the BFP employees tested positive for coronavirus that prompted the isolation of 55 people in Malay, the town in Aklan province where Boracay is located.
Business operators have also complained that the age restrictions effectively discouraged family trips to Boracay as health protocol deemed those younger than 21 years old and older than 60 to be highly vulnerable to infection.
Puyat cited the absence of new COVID-19 cases on the island, saying health and safety protocols were in place upon arrival of local visitors.
“The DOT will always put paramount concern on the safety of our people — tourists and residents alike,” she said in the statement.
Business owners on the island have reported billions of pesos in losses due to months of quarantine measures and travel restrictions which have resulted in the closure or suspension of operations of businesses in Boracay.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.