By PERLA LENA
ILOILO CITY – The local government of Malay in Aklan has kept Boracay Island free from coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) since last Feb. 28 as it continues to welcome a massive influx of both domestic and foreign tourists.
Malay chief tourism operations officer Felix Gregorio Delos Santos, in a phone interview, said from January to March they already recorded 267,278 guests who visited Boracay Island averaging from 4,000 to 6,000 daily.
in January, some 35,799 tourists visited the island, 80,882 in February, and 150,597 in March.
“The increase in arrival is due to easing of requirements although securing them is meticulous since our topmost priority is the safety of the community and tourists,” he said.
Delos Santos said safety officers of various government offices and accommodation establishments are in place to always remind tourists to observe health protocols.
In public places, personnel of the Philippine National Police together with life and beach guards are on patrol to make sure health protocols are followed, especially the wearing of face masks.
“Boracay as a destination is an awardee of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) Safe Travels Stamp as early as March last year,” he added.
The WTTC Safe Travels Stamp is the world’s first safety and hygiene stamp for travelers to recognize governments and businesses that have adopted global health standardized protocols.
Delos Santos added that the island’s vaccination rates for both residents and tourism workers are over 100 percent and they are in the process of administering booster doses.
While the arrivals this year could not be compared with the numbers during the same period last year due to the island’s lockdown, Delos Santos said the increase from February to March could be between 30 to 50 percent.
During the pre-pandemic, he said that tourist arrivals reached up to around 200,000 during the said period.
“It is an indicator that at least we are closer to the pre-pandemic arrivals. Based on the tourist arrival we can see that gradually we are recovering,” he said.
Fully vaccinated leisure travelers from outside of Western Visayas are required to have their vaccination certificate or vaccination card, reservation from an establishment accredited by the Department of Tourism (DOT), government identification card, travel details, and Online Health Declaration Card that can be accessed via www.touristboracay.com.
Unvaccinated or partially vaccinated are still required to present their negative result of the reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test. (PNA)