Drop swab test for Boracay tourists, business operators urge gov’t
MANILA, Philippines — The number of tourists visiting Boracay has been slowly increasing amid strict travel requirements during the pandemic. And business operators are still hoping that the mandatory swab tests for tourists will be lifted as they promised to observe basic safety and health protocols.
Swab tests are believed to have discouraged more people from coming to the resort island in Aklan province.
On Saturday, tourist arrivals reached 205 and on Sunday, 208, the highest daily totals since the island in Malay town began accepting visitors from outside Western Visayas on Oct. 1.
Of those who arrived on Sunday, 194 (93 percent) were from Metro Manila, the highest number coming from the national capital in a single day, data from the Malay tourism office showed.
On Thursday, 194 tourists, including 169 from Metro Manila, arrived. From Oct. 1 to Oct. 25, a total of 1,944 tourists came, including 1,113 from Metro Manila and 737 from Aklan. The remaining 94 were from Iloilo City and other areas in Western Visayas.
Way below average
The figures were still way below the daily average tourist arrivals of between 4,000 and 5,000 before the pandemic hit, but business operators are hopeful of a steady increase.
Earlier, the government adjusted the validity period for the requirement of a negative real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction, or RT-PCR, for tourists following complaints of business owners.
The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases on Oct. 15 allowed tourists to secure an RT-PCR test within 72 hours before their trip to Boracay instead of the previous 48 hours.
Business owners complained that the requirement to secure an RT-PCR test within 48 hours had led to the cancellation of reservations. Many tourists from Western Visayas, especially from Iloilo, had put off plans to go to the island, they said, pointing out that the required RT-PCR test cost at least P4,000 per person.
Tourists from Western Visayas were not required to secure a swab test before Oct. 1.
The business operators asked the government to scrap the RT-PCR test as a requirement for tourists and instead require the faster and cheaper antigen test so Boracay could recover from huge economic losses that led to the closure of establishments and job losses.
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