Boracay Reopens To Local Tourists: What You Need To Know
Written by Dezza, 29 September 2020.
The Philippines has endured one of the longest COVID-19 lockdowns in the world but finally, the COVID-19 Inter-Agency Task Force has approved the reopening of Boracay Island for tourism from October 1, 2020.
However, before you get too excited, this will only be for domestic travel.
The other caveat is that only people coming from places that are currently under General Community Quarantine (GCQ) will be permitted to visit Boracay, one of the most popular Philippines destinations, starting from October 1.
However, tourists will need to adhere to very strict health protocols.
RT-PCR Swab Tests Required
Under “the new normal”, tourists will be required to submit a negative swab test result performed through a real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) 48 to 72 hours before they depart from their respective home locations.
The PCR test costs range anywhere from P4,500 to P8,000 and will be shouldered by the individual tourists. From there, tourists will then be subjected to strict quarantine until the date they travel to the island.
However, officials have had discussions with airlines and hotels with regard to refund or rebookings should guests be unable to make the trip.
Boracay actually reopened on June 16 of this year however, this was only for the residents of the Western Visayas region. Since then, there haven’t been enough tourists to support the local economy during this period of time so the Department of Tourism is now pushing for more tourists.
However, due to current regulations, only people between the ages of 21 and 60 are permitted to travel. Therefore, Tourism Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat made a request to lift the age restrictions which was subsequently approved by the COVID-19 task force.
Lifting Of Age Restrictions
“We are proposing no age restrictions because Filipinos travel as a family. As long as they are negative with the RT-PCR, of course, no symptoms, follow minimum health standards – we ask that no age restrictions to go also to Boracay,” Puyat said.
There will be more than 200 hotel and resorts with over 4,000 available room so it’s important to book ahead to make sure that you are able to secure some accommodation. Only Caticlan airport will be open to tourists.
Needless to say, there will be some very strict health protocols with regard to travel and accommodation. This will include mandatory temperature checks and the completion of health declaration forms when they check-in to their respective hotels.
Anybody that exhibits any symptoms of the virus they will be required to go to the isolation facility in which they will be subjected to further testing for COVID-19.
If the findings of the test results are negative they will be permitted to remain on the island however if the results are positive they will be required to leave.
No Limit To How Long You Can Stay
The good news is that tourism officials are encouraging people to stay for as long as they like. However, the downside is that the wearing of facemasks will be mandatory while strolling along Boracay’s beautiful white-sand beaches.
And of course, other health protocols such as physical distancing and handwashing/sanitisation will be encouraged.
Guests will also only be allowed to purchase two glasses or bottles of alcoholic beverages, although the rules surrounding this are still a little unclear.
Travel Steps For Boracay Tourists
– Go online and access http://aklan.gov.ph or https://bit.ly/2QzbUkZ and click “Online Health Declaration”. Choose Boracay in the “Where To” Page.
– Fill out required fields and click submit.
– Upon submission, a confirmation with instructions will be displayed.
– Attach a copy of RT-PCR Negative Result, a copy of confirmed booking slip/form and proof of identification and send to [email protected] using the email subject OHDC-Family Name, First Name.
– Wait for the email response (successful or unsuccessful) of the Final Validator. Processing takes less than 12 hours after receipt of complete documents.
– If processing is successful, a copy of HDC with Tourist QR Code will be sent back. Present this HDC with Tourist QR code to authorities on the borders for scanning.
– If processing is unsuccessful, resubmission of requirements or clarification may be required.
There Has Never Been A Better Time To Come To Boracay
An Australian mate of mine, Mark Rudnicki, is one of the founders of 7Stones Boracay and has lived in Boracay for more than 10 years.
I spoke to Mark when writing this article and he assured me, “There has never been a better time to come to Boracay. Hotels have dropped their rates to attract tourists and restaurants have plenty of specials. There are some of the best deals I’ve seen in the ten years I’ve been living here. The beach has never been so pristine”.
Boracay Island, without doubt, one of the best places in the Philippines, was closed in April 2018 for a six-month rehabilitation. When the island reopened in October 2018, most of the infrastructure improvements had not been completed.
Unfortunately, this meant there was still traffic jams and delays. Fast forward to October 2020 and the roads are now complete and the beaches and water have never been so clean.
Mark went on to say, “Now is a great time to visit Boracay and experience it like it was decades ago. With International tourism not expected to start until at least December 2020, tourist numbers will be low and those lucky enough to be able to come before then will experience a stay they’ll never be able to repeat.”
At first, I thought the extra costs in getting the RT-PCR test would possibly turn a lot of people off however, there are some really cheap flights and accommodation in Boracay at the moment.
Furthermore, as my friend Mark mentioned, you won’t be able to experience Boracay with so little tourist for a very long time ahead. So there is actually no better time to go than now!
I first went to Boracay in 1997, and having seen some of the photos Mark has sent me, Boracay looks even better than it did back in ‘97!
After the rehabilitation two years ago and the recent COVID-19 shutdown, Boracay looks absolutely sensational and I’m super keen to get back down there before the place is overrun with tourists.
I last went to Boracay way back in 2013 and by then I was becoming concerned with how commercialised this once beautiful slice of paradise had become. I had started to fall out of love with the place as to me, it had lost its beauty and charm and was becoming like Bali.
However, with the restrictions that were put in place after the rehabilitation in October 2018, and with what has happened with the whole COVID thing, I remain hopeful that Boracay won’t reach the peaks of tourism seen in the last decade or so and can reclaim its former glory for many more decades to come.
Please like and share this article with friends and family or if you want to leave any comments or share your experiences about Boracay please, leave your comments below. And please don’t forget to check out my related articles below.
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