Boracay logs highest arrivals during pandemic
ILOILO CITY, Iloilo, Philippines — Boracay Island recorded in November the highest number of tourist arrivals during the coronavirus pandemic amid loosened travel restrictions and more activities allowed on the island.
The municipal tourism office of Malay town in Aklan province, where the island is located, recorded 67,343 tourists visiting Boracay last month, higher by more than 90 percent than the previous peak of 35,108 in July. More than half, or 34,416 leisure travelers, were from Metro Manila.
Since Nov. 16, fully vaccinated tourists have been allowed to visit the island by submitting vaccination certificates in lieu of negative swab test results.
Tourists can also submit locally issued vaccination certificates that should have verifiable quick response (QR) codes or with a certificate of vaccination issued by a vaccination center. In the absence of vaccination certificates, tourists still need to submit a negative swab test result.
A confirmed booking slip from a Department of Tourism-accredited accommodation establishment on the island is also required. Aklan Gov. Florencio Miraflores has eased restrictions on Boracay in an order on Dec. 2, allowing establishments to operate outdoor dining and extending business operating hours from 5 a.m. to midnight, longer than in the mainland, which is from 6 a.m to 10 p.m.
The curfew on the island has been shortened and is now only from 1 a.m to 4 a.m.
The Aklan provincial government earlier refined its system of processing tourists after it was overwhelmed by tourists wanting to visit the popular island resort.
Tourists planning to visit the island need to submit information and requirements through touristboracay.com in order to be issued a QR code, which is a preboarding requirement that is checked at the airport in Manila. The application should be sent not more than seven days before the trip to the island.
Business owners and residents mostly dependent on tourism for their livelihood are hoping that the relaxed travel and community quarantine restrictions will continue to bring more tourists to the island, which is still reeling from an economic slump due to the pandemic.
The island, which closed to tourists when the COVID-19 pandemic struck in March 2020, reopened to visitors from Western Visayas areas in June and from other areas in October, both of last year. But repeated lockdowns and community quarantine restrictions discouraged or barred tourists from going to the island.
Before the pandemic, the daily arrivals on the island numbered from 4,000 to 6,000 tourists.
—NESTOR P. BURGOS JR.
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