Boracay open but struggling

The tourism industry in Boracay Island is up and running—welcoming back visitors from nearby provinces. But the island is struggling.

Visitors from Western Visayas region were permitted to enter the hugely popular tourist destination in Aklan since the Coronavirus pandemic has taken toll for all businesses related to tourism.

Tourists from Capiz, Guimaras, Negros Occidental, Antique, Iloilo and Aklan were again allowed to visit beginning June 16.

It has been two months when the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force allowed the island to reopen for local travelers. As many would expect, the sudden halt in travel has led record-lows in visitor numbers compared to last year.

The Malay Municipal Tourism Office said there were 668 tourist arrivals in July 2020 and 495 tourists from August 1 to 9. The less impressive tourist numbers is due to lack of visitors from traditional markets from South Korea, China and Taiwan.

The island managed to attract 72,495 domestic tourists while 93,297 foreigners visited the island in July last year.

Since the pandemic, the tourist arrivals has nosedived as the province of Aklan and Boracay Island imposed restrictions and completely halted international travel from East Asia.

At this time of the year, the island would typically be teeming with Koreans and Chinese tourists. Back in mid-March, the national government suspended international air travel which resulted in a slump of tourist arrivals.

Hotels and resorts in the island also reopened in June after the Department of Tourism issued Certificate of Authority to Operate /Provisional Certificate of Authority to Operate to 164 accommodation establishments with 3,454 available rooms as of August 18.

While visiting Boracay Island, the visitors must comply local protocols to help contain the spread of coronavirus. These include wearing of facemasks throughout the course of their vacation.

Tourists are also subject to temperature checks on arrival and must complete a health declaration form on Covid-19 symptoms.

The five-hour compulsory curfew is also in effect from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m. for residents and visitors of the island. (Boy Ryan Zabal)