Tourists who passed their COVID-19 tests set foot on an extraordinarily pristine Boracay Island on Thursday, as the Philippines sought to carefully revive a $450-billion industry. The sun rose on a spotless stretch of white sand beach, ready to welcome after a six-month hiatus.
A negative RT-PCR or swab test is among requirements for visitors to Boracay, which could provide a roadmap for the reopening of other popular sites. Baguio and Tagaytay have reopened while Bohol has signaled that it will be next. From Oct. 1, hotels in GCQ areas can accept guests for staycations.
"Maganda ang Boracay kasi nagpahinga siya nang for how many months (Boracay is beautiful because it got to rest for how many months.)," Malay town Mayor Frolibar Bautista told Teleradyo.
The popular island destination closed its doors in March to prevent the spread of the virus. It welcomed tourists again in June, but only those coming from the Western Visayas region.
An initial 2,000 tourists will be allowed to visit Boracay again starting Oct. 1.
Hotels must secure accreditation from the Department of Tourism before accepting guests. Once allowed to reopen, operations must be scaled down to 50% capacity, with a maximum of 2 guests per room. A total of 382 bars and restaurants on the island have also been accredited ahead of the scheduled reopening.
Tourists must test negative for the virus at least 48 hours prior to their travel to the island. Bautista said Boracay has an isolation facility and those who test positive or are suspected carriers of the virus will be moved to mainland Aklan.
"Panawagan ko sa Filipino tourists natin please bring your friends and families and enjoy our beautiful island (My call to Filipino tourists is to please bring your friends and families and enjoy our beautiful island)," he said.