Boracay arrivals breach 4,000 in December
ILOILO CITY — Despite strict health and travel protocols, many tourists still prefer to take a break in Boracay, as the resort island recorded a relatively significant increase in arrivals in the first two weeks of December.
Visitors from Dec. 1 to Dec. 15 reached 4,358, almost triple the 1,520 from Nov. 1 to Nov. 15, and more than five times the 864 from Oct. 1 to Oct. 15, data from the municipal tourism office of Malay, Aklan, showed.
Their number for the first half of December also surpassed the monthly totals for October (1,568) and November (4,154).
At least 3,443, or 79 percent of visitors this month were from Metro Manila, but those from Cebu, Laguna, and Lanao del Norte provinces, as well as from areas in Western Visayas, were also recorded. Boracay began accepting tourists from Western Visayas on June 16 and from other areas on Oct. 1.
Business owners and residents dependent on tourism for their livelihood and income have been hoping that more visitors will come to the world-famous resort island despite lingering concerns and travel restrictions over the COVID-19 pandemic.
While the number of tourists is still below the 3,000 to 5,000 daily arrivals before the pandemic, the rising figures have brought optimism to business owners.
Tourists bound for Boracay are required to submit a negative real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test result taken within 72 hours before their trip. But a program of the Department of Tourism (DOT) to subsidize the COVID-19 tests for tourists is expected to boost arrivals further.
Under an agreement with the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital (UP-PGH), the DOT, through the Tourism Promotion Board, will subsidize P900 or half of the P1,800 cost of RT-PCR tests administered by UP-PGH for around 11,000 domestic tourists.
The program, which has been allocated P9.99 million, is intended to stimulate domestic travel to destinations declared safe by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, such as Palawan, Boracay, Bohol, Baguio, and Ilocos Norte, according to Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat.
“Domestic tourism benefits a country in a number of ways. It brings immense opportunities for all, particularly generating jobs and creating entrepreneurial activities to help our economy recover, apart from enabling us to rediscover our pride of place and culture when we visit our diverse sites and enjoy the recalibrated products offered by our destinations,” Puyat said in a statement.
Tourists can avail themselves of the subsidy by registering at tpb.gov.ph/rtpcrphtravel/ five days before their scheduled departure. They are advised to book early as UP-PGH can only accommodate 100 RT-PCR tests per day, according to the DOT. INQ
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