The Caticlan airport will be used solely to welcome tourists heading to Boracay Island as the Aklan provincial government seeks to assure the safety of visitors as travel routes reopen.
Aklan Governor Florencio Miraflores allayed fears of COVID-19 infections, vouching for the safeguards in place as the world-renowned paradise reopens to guests from all over the country.
The Caticlan Airport – a short boat ride away from the white sand beaches – will be used solely by tourists. Returning Aklanons, particularly locally-stranded individuals and those returning from official travel, will only be allowed to enter and leave the province via the Kalibo Airport in the mainland.
“The danger of mixing tourists and locals will be lessened,” Miraflores told CNN Philippines’ The Source.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said separately that a designated area has also been set up for triage and the checking of requirements for tourists who will drive to Boracay.
“It’s safe here in Boracay because we have installed health protocols that will protect our tourists and of course, our local residents…” Roque said. “We know the risks, but we also have to balance the risks with our economy.”
The governor noted that Aklan primarlily depends on tourism, with some 20,000 people counting on the sector to make a living.
Boracay is off to a slow but steady start, with less than a hundred tourists traveling to the island as visitors from outside Western Visayas were allowed entry.
All tourists must have a negative COVID-19 results done via a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test taken two to three days before travel.
The governor added that each traveler will have his own QR code, which will be used during the stay and scan at each site visited for easier contact tracing.
Should a tourist show symptoms of COVID-19, there are protocols to isolate the patient and bring them to Kalibo for swab testing. A dedicated vehicle will ferry the suspect case to Aklan’s own swab testing facility, Miraflores said.
“We have very stringent rules and regulations for travelers going to Boracay,” MIraflores said. “We understand that there’s still fear of travel among our tourists, so we expected the numbers to be low but we are very hopeful that in next few weeks or months, the confidence on travel… and the confidence of tourists going to Boracay is restored.Tourists would always think of safety first.”
Roque, meanwhile, said he will fly to Boracay on Saturday and stay there until Monday, and hold his regular press briefing there.
However, he said there are slim chances that President Rodrigo Duterte will visit the island anytime soon, saying Duterte has a lot of work to do in Malacañang.