Boracay, the Crown Jewel of the Philippine Tourism Industry, reopened its doors to domestic tourists on October 1, 2020. The island has long been preparing for the return of tourists in the new normal with unified protocols and stringent recovery plans. It welcomed Aklanons on June 16, Western Visayas tourists on July 1. Lately, welcomed tourists from MGCQ or GCQ areas nationwide under the IATF resolution no. 74, which also requires everyone to test before travel and allows visitors of any age, even below 21 and above 60 years old.

In this blog, we have summarized last week's discussion with Boracay-based guest speakers Malay Municipal Chief Tourism Operations Officer, Mr. Felix Delos Santos Jr.; and Paradise Garden Resort Hotel and Convention Center General Manager and Boracay Foundation Inc. President, Mr. Edwin Raymundo on the reopening of Boracay and assuring travelers’ safety.

Covered in this blog are:

●      Boracay Tourism Recovery Plan

●      New Travel Process

●      Assuring Health and Safety

●      Current Tourism Scenario

Tourism Recovery Plan

As discussed by Mr. Delos Santos, Boracay LGU has devised a plan to slowly but surely recover its tourism activities by having a so-called Reopening Phases: First phase opens Boracay to Aklanons and Western Visayas tourists; second phase opens to domestic tourists from MGCQ/GCQ areas; and third phase to international tourists, forming a travel bubble with low-risk countries, possibly Asian countries such as South Korea, China, and Taiwan.

Assuring Health and Safety

Malay LGU, under the leadership of Local Chief Executive Hon. Frolibar Bautista, established a local Covid-19 Inter Agency Task Force (IATF) and activated the Incident Command System, having MDRRMO-Caticlan Office as the operation center. The Municipal Incident Management Team (MIMT) was also created with the goal to strengthen and specify each function and duties of the team. These movements were deemed as best practices to combat Covid-19 according to the DILG of Aklan.

Also in July 2020, Private-Public Alliance for Boracay (PPAB) was formed to act as a technical working group to craft a comprehensive safety guideline and monitor tourist activities in public and private establishments or entities such as airports, transportations, ports, accommodation and restaurants, health referrals, Boracay tour activities, Boracay marketing and promotions, and security and protocols.

To maintain strict observance of protocols and Covid-19 suspected cases, force multipliers and frontliners are 24/7 on duty to take care of tourists, effective on October 1, 2020 up to present.

For hotels, DOT Memorandum Circular 2020-02 provided a checklist of protocols for hotels and resorts. As mentioned by Mr. Raymundo, hotels like Paradise Garden Resort and Convention Center has enhanced the standard protocol, for instance adding hospital-grade filtered ozone purifier and automated alcohol dispensers. Other tourism-related establishments and businesses in Boracay have also adopted their own advanced practices to secure the safety of the tourists.

In addition to all of these, Malay LGU and other public and private stakeholders hold weekly meetings to monitor the island's tourism plans and health and safety protocols. Other protocols or safety reminders include the wearing of face mask and face shield at all times, except when swimming and dining; registering before swimming in the sea; social distancing; and complying to swimming guidelines.

Suspected Covid-19 Patients

Mr. Delos Santos says that a tourist who shows Covid-19 symptoms must be reported to the Health and Safety Officer of the hotel that he or she is staying in. Each accommodation establishment has its designated Health and Safety Officer ready to respond when there is a suspected Covid-19 patient. The officer will conduct an assessment and call Boracay Covid-19 Hotline at 152 or (036) 288-3041. Once the assessment is done, responders or Covid-19 ambulance will pick up the tourist and will be sent to the quarantine facility in Kalibo for an RT-PCR test. If the results are negative, the tourist may continue his or her stay in Boracay; if the results are positive, the tourist will no longer be allowed to stay on the island.

Pre-travel requirements

Before heading to Boracay, travelers must secure the following requirements:

Aklanons

  1. Confirmed booking in DOT-accredited accommodation establishment

For a list of DOT-accredited accommodation, visit http://aklan.gov.ph/list-of-accommodation-establishments-in-boracay-with-certificate-of-authority-to-operate-cao-provisional-certificate-of-authority-to-operate-pcao/.

2. Health declaration form available at touristboracay.com

Non-Aklanons

  1. Negative RT-PCR test result taken within 72 hours before travel date

Executive Order No. 039 Series of 2020, which was released on October 19, states that the validity of the RT-PCR result is extended to 72 hours instead of 48. The 72-hour validity of the test result starts from the time of swabbing to the time of arrival on the island. After swabbing, travelers are advised to undergo self-quarantine until the date of arrival. Tourists must be tested in COVID-19 accredited testing laboratories, visit  https://hfsrb.doh.gov.ph/?page_id=1729 for the list.

2. Confirmed booking in DOT-accredited accommodation establishment

For a list of DOT-accredited accommodation, visit http://aklan.gov.ph/list-of-accommodation-establishments-in-boracay-with-certificate-of-authority-to-operate-cao-provisional-certificate-of-authority-to-operate-pcao/.

3. Health declaration form available at touristboracay.com

Tourists must fill out health declaration form at touristboracay.com. After completing the form and emailing the requirements, tourists will receive an email confirmation and their QR code and Health Declaration Card (HDC).

New Travel Process

The new normal travel process to Boracay includes online completion of Health Declaration Form, submission of digital copies of requirements, and presentation of QR code to all entry points such as airport, accommodation and other establishments.

Pre-travel

Register your visit via touristboracay.com

  1. Go to touristboracay.com and fill out basic information
  2. Complete health declaration form
  3. Once completed, email digital copy of the following requirements to touristboracay@gmail.com

●      Confirmed booking slip from DOT-accredited accommodation

●      Negative RT-PCR test result

●      Valid ID

●      Flight details

Use this format for the email subject:  OHDC-Surname, First Name. The said requirements must be submitted 12 hours prior to flight schedule.

  1. Receive, download and save QR code

Once approved, tourists will receive an email confirmation together with their QR code and Health Declaration Card (HDC). Tourists must save a copy of the QR code and the Health Declaration Card (HDC) in their smartphone or for non-smartphone users, a printed copy will do. The QR code will serve as the entry pass to all checkpoints, borders, accommodation and other establishments and tour activities.

For more information about the requirements and registration, visit http://aklan.gov.ph/guide-for-tourists/ (for domestic tourists) or http://aklan.gov.ph/guide-for-local-aklanon-residents-who-are-visiting-boracay-island-as-tourists/ (for Aklanons).

During travel

  1. Present QR code and HDC upon arrival at the Caticlan airport

For air travels, the Godofredo P. Ramos Airport in Caticlan will be the only entry point. Tourists are required to present their QR code and HDC.

  1. Proceed to the jetty port and present QR code and HDC
  2. Proceed to waiting area and fill up Manifest Form

Tourists are encouraged to bring their own pens.

  1. Get pumpboat seat number
  2. Board to pumpboat
  3. Proceed to booked accommodation

Current Tourism Scenario

To date, there are 219 DOT-accredited accommodation establishments and 362 businesses with certificates to operate granted by the LGU of Malay. There are over 800 tourist arrivals recorded from October 1 to October 15. Tourists are mostly from Aklan and NCR.

Most activities such as dining, swimming and water sports are already allowed. Bars and parties are still prohibited. Most hotels and resorts have received certificates to operate, but according to Mr. Raymundo, not all accommodation establishments have opened because of the limited bookings.

Although the pandemic has brought a lot of challenges to the tourism industry, there remains a silver lining to Boracay. With the months of lockdown, the island was rehabilitated and improved. Mr. Delos Santos mentions that they are currently promoting the island with the branding "Boracay Better than Ever" to showcase the island's beauty as well as the enhanced safety protocols for tourists.

Mr. Delos Santos also says that the last Covid-19 case was recorded in March and there hasn't been any case since then up to present. With the cautious plans and protocols as well as unified public and private sectors, Boracay eyes to open to international tourists by December or January 2021. Mr. Delos Santos and Mr. Raymundo also encourage tourists to strictly follow the island's and its establishments' health and safety protocols, emphasizing every tourist to be a responsible traveler.

For queries and announcements in relation to Boracay tourism, visit https://www.facebook.com/malaytourism.

Download Summary: Guide to Visiting Boracay in the New Normal