BORACAY–The Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force (BIATF) has approved the proposal of the local government of Malay, Aklan to require negative saliva test results for incoming tourists to Boracay Island.
This was announced by Aklan governor Florencio Miraflores in a press briefing on March 18, 2021, in Boracay Island with Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu.
“Soon, the number of tourists will increase. From between 40 and 100 tourists since the reopening of Boracay last October, we are now accommodating 1,000 visitors daily in the island with 7 flights daily to Kalibo and Caticlan airports,” the governor said.
Miraflores stressed the stakeholders are also hoping foreign tourists will return to Boracay Island—subject to existing health and safety protocols—to reinvigorate the tourism, hospitality, and travel sectors.
Only licensed testing centers for saliva tests of the Department of Health (DoH), as well as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), are allowed to administer the pre-entry requirement for travelers to Boracay Island, according to Undersecretary Benny Antiporda, Jr.
“We are expanding the coverage of testing not only to include the Philippine Red Cross but also those testing facilities accredited by the DOH,” he added.
Miraflores also said those tourists who came in with fake swab test results are now facing charges before the Aklan Provincial Prosecutor’s Office. The Sangguniang Bayan of Malay, Aklan also declared the violators as ‘persona non grata’.
Malay acting town mayor Frolibar Bautista thanked the BIATF for allowing the use of the cheaper and faster saliva test to boost tourism arrivals.
“Naghihirap kami dito sa Boracay. Sana itong saliva testing sa mga turista ang bubuhay sa turismo natin dito [We have been doing poorly here in Boracay. I hope this saliva testing will reenergize tourism],” he stated.
For his part, Cimatu said he will submit a proposal to President Rodrigo Duterte to extend the term of BIATF for one year. The inter-agency task force will end its term in May 2021. (Boy Ryan Zabal/iNews-Aklan/Boracay Bureau)