More than a week after reopening its doors, tourist arrivals at the world-famous Boracay Island in Malay town, Aklan province, has remained low even as travel restrictions have been eased.
“Masubo guid (It’s very sad),” expressed Aklan Governor Florencio Miraflores.
“Right now, the average is around 50 visitors per day. We used to have an average of 5,000 visitors per day before the pandemic,” Miraflores told The Manila Bulletin in a phone interview.
Data from the Malay Tourism Office show varied daily tourist arrivals since October 1, the first day the country’s tourism crown jewel was able to welcome back tourists from all over the country. That day, 50 visitors arrived. The highest was on October 2 with 60 visitors while the least was on October 5 with only 13 tourists.
Miraflores admitted that the national government’s policy in requiring incoming tourists to undergo swab test for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has been one of the biggest hindrances to the gradual reopening.
It was Miraflores who asked the national government to gradually reopen Boracay to revitalize Aklan’s economy, which is dependent on the once booming tourism industry of the resort island.
One of the key aspects the Aklan provincial government was looking at was pushing for the rapid test, instead of swab tests, to detect COVID-19 for incoming visitors.
“We all know that rapid test is cheaper and faster,” Miraflores added.
Boracay first reopened last June 16, but only to residents of Western Visayas. From June 16 to September 30, there were a total of 5,026 tourists coming from the region that is comprised of Aklan, Antique, Capiz, Guimaras, Iloilo, and Negros Occidental provinces, as well as the highly urbanized cities of Iloilo and Bacolod.
Miraflores also that it was still being worked out that visitors from Western Visayas region will not have to undergo COVID-19 swab test, which, after all, was not previously needed.