The mayor of Boracay in Aklan is appealing to Filipinos to visit the island, whose economy was severely battered by the travel restrictions brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mayor Frolibar Bautista said today that the white-sand beach looks even more spectacular because of the island’s almost seven-month closure.
“Boracay looks really beautiful now because it was closed for how many months. The water, the beach, they’re very clean,” he said in Filipino and English in an interview with ABS-CBN’s Teleradyo.
“The breeze is really nice but it’s not that strong. Boracay is waiting for tourists to arrive from all over the Philippines….I ask our Filipino tourists to please bring your friends and families and enjoy our beautiful island,” he added.
Hotels on the island will be allowed to operate at 50% capacity, and a maximum of two guests are permitted to share one bedroom. At least 383 bars and restaurants have received government accreditation.
Initially, only guests aged 21 to 59 years old were allowed to visit the island but the Department of Tourism appealed to the anti-coronavirus task force and the age restriction was lifted. However, all guests have to present a negative RT-PCR test 48 to 72 hours prior to arrival. The RT-PCR, considered the gold standard in coronavirus testing, costs about PHP2,000 (US$41.26) in a government-run hospital.
The pandemic is not the first crisis that brought Boracay — considered one of the world’s most beautiful islands — to its knees. In 2018, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the closure of Boracay for six months, citing the need to rehabilitate it. The temporary closure led to the loss of thousands of jobs and the shutdown of scores of businesses.