Boracay Island is now getting ready to open its borders for the incoming international tourists.
After almost two years into the pandemic, where the country strictly imposed border restrictions leading to significant losses for the tourism industry, a ray of light can now be seen as starting February 10; the Philippines will accept fully-vaccinated international tourists from non-visa countries.
Tourism officer Felix Delos Santos said that the officials in Aklan have started holding a "series of meetings" about the return of foreign tourists.
"Currently, we're still in the process of crafting guidelines, but it is assured that health and safety protocols are still there for the protection of our tourists as well as our community," Delos Santos said with a mix of Filipino in an interview with ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo.
He added that international tourists planning to visit the Island, may need to present a negative RT-PCR test result and proof of vaccination, the same requirements for local tourists.
Delos Santos stressed that the Island, which has a population that relies mainly on tourism for their livelihood, needs foreign tourists to recover from the pandemic.
"Based mismo sa recovery and resiliency plan natin, talagang if ever talagang 'di makapasok 'yong foreign tourist natin, talagang hindi siya makakabawi," he said.
(Based on our recovery and resiliency plan, if ever foreign tourists won't be allowed to enter Boracay, we really won't be able to recover.)
Since the pandemic started, nearly half of 314 accredited establishments have temporarily closed; Delos Santos also said that according to the officials' projection, it would take five years before Boracay recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.
He also assured that local officials validate the documents that tourists submit upon entry to Boracay, and there is a referral system if any tourist tests positive for COVID-19.
From January 1 to 28, Boracay saw 33,756 tourist arrivals.