Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said today that she is pushing for the removal of age restrictions imposed on tourists who want to visit Boracay, which is scheduled to reopen on Oct. 1.
Romulo-Puyat told ABS-CBN’s Teleradyo that she intends to ask the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases to allow people aged above 60 years old and those below 21 to visit the island. At present, only those aged 20 to 59 will be allowed as tourists.
In addition, only those living in areas under the modified general community quarantine are welcomed into Boracay. This means residents of Metro Manila, currently under the general community quarantine (GCQ), are barred from entering.
“Filipinos travel as a family; we bring our grandfather, grandmother, and those aged under 20 (sic). Aside from allowing those who live in GCQ [areas] to fly to Boracay, we are asking for the removal of the age restrictions,” she said.
The secretary said there’s a “99.9%” chance that Boracay’s reopening will push through, but reminded Filipinos that they need to submit a negative RT-PCR test first before they’re allowed to visit. The RT-PCR test is considered the “gold” standard in coronavirus testing and costs at least PHP4,000 (US$82).
“[You have to] test before travel. [You need a] negative RT-PCR [taken] 48 to 72 hours before traveling. So if it’s not negative, you cannot visit. You also have to register [for accomodations] online. What’s available there are hotels that have been certified by the Department of Tourism and passed the health protocols,” she said.
The secretary said that the tourism industry has been severely impacted by the health crisis with at least 4.8 million workers losing their jobs or accepting pay cuts.
In 2018, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered Boracay to be closed 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.