Boracay, Baguio see more tourists as travel rules eased
Boracay Island and Baguio City, two of the top destinations in the country, are seeing more tourists as summer approaches.
In Aklan province, at least 10,708 tourists visited Boracay in Malay town from March 1 to March 14. Around 60 percent of visitors, at 6,387, came from Metro Manila.
Arrivals in the first two weeks of March surpassed the number of visitors in previous months since the island reopened to tourists on Oct. 1 last year.
The number of tourists reached 2,630 in October and nearly doubled to 4,154 in November. It jumped to 15,307 in December but dropped to 11,898 in January before reaching 16,487 in February.
While still far from the prepandemic average daily arrival of 4,000 daily, tourist arrivals were expected to increase especially as travel restrictions have been eased.
The Malay government on Feb. 26 shortened the curfew on the island to three hours to encourage more tourists to come.
Acting Mayor Frolibar Bautista said this was “imperative to attract more tourists and further stimulate tourism activities.”
Business operators and residents dependent on tourism for their livelihood were hoping that more people would visit the island so they could recover from the economic impact of the pandemic.
Many establishments have stopped operating or reduced their workforce.
Boracay-bound tourists are still required to submit negative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test results within 72 hours before their trip to the island.In Baguio City, some big hotels are still requiring tourists to take rapid antigen tests despite the eased travel restrictions.
The Baguio Country Club (BCC), Camp John Hay Manor and Forest Lodge have retained this health security feature and have encouraged other members of the Hotels and Restaurants Association of Baguio (HRAB) to apply the same protocol, said Andrew Pinero, HRAB spokesperson, at a press briefing on Tuesday.
Relaxed travel requirements had increased the number of Baguio tourists, which surprised health workers at two entry triage on March 13 when as many as 6,000 people lined up for mandatory medical evaluation.
Heeding the uniform travel guidelines imposed by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF), the city no longer requires negative COVID-19 test results from tourists because of the cost.
According to the IATF, only the RT-PCR test, costing P4,500, will be used once local governments require travelers at the borders to show proof that they are not infected.
Antigen tests are substitutes for RT-PCR tests and take only at least 15 minutes to detect the virus causing COVID-19.
The management teams of BCC, Manor and Forest Lodge sought Mayor Benjamin Magalong’s approval for all accommodation facilities to continue requiring antigen tests on their guests, Pinero said. At least 190 hotels and inns have resumed operations in the city.
As of March 15, Baguio recorded 6,550 COVID-19 patients, with 693 cases classified as active. The active cases included two patients with the more transmissible United Kingdom variant.
Baguio reopened its doors to leisure travelers in October last year, and the city tourism office screened and approved the visit of 87,000 tourists as of March 14, said Assistant Tourism Supervisor Jose Maria Rivera.
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