PHOTO CAPTION: Aklan Governor Florencio Miraflores has high hopes for the entry of tourists from ‘green countries’ to the Philippines and for the revival of the travel and tourism industry of Boracay Island./iNews
KALIBO, Aklan–With Boracay Island reporting zero domestic COVID-19 cases, the provincial government of Aklan is now actively pursuing to make it a travel bubble-friendly destination after almost two years of tourism slowdown.
Aklan Governor Florencio Miraflores said a travel bubble will spark and revive economic activity on the island resort, but local guidelines must first be established, particularly since the National Inter-Agency Task Force (NIATF) has already approved entry into the country by travelers from “green countries”.
The so-called green countries include mainland China, Singapore, Taiwan, Japan, India, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Kosovo, Guinea, Chad, Ivory Coast, Uganda, Senegal, Zambia, United Arab Emirates, Paraguay, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Togo, Palau, Rwanda, Sint Eustatius, South Africa, Saint Barthélemy, Oman, Morocco, Niger, Mali, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Comoros, Bhutan, Kuwait, Malvinas, Guinea-Bissau, and Hong Kong.
As per NIATF rules, “green tourists” may travel to the Philippines and not be subjected to quarantine upon arrival if they submit proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours prior to departure.
However, to fully integrate Boracay into the nationwide guidelines, Miraflores is proposing chartered flights for leisure travel from the approved countries.
“Those arriving at Kalibo International Airport would have to use chartered buses and designated safe travel lanes for domestic and foreign tourists upon arrival at Caticlan jetty port,” he said, adding, “Travelers required by their country to submit a negative RT-PCR test result upon their return may avail of the RT-PCR testing at the private molecular laboratory at the Caticlan reclamation area in Malay.”
Since September 8, about 79,600 domestic tourists have visited the island.
Meanwhile, Kalibo International airport can’t wait to welcome more passengers in its current attempt to reboot.
Airport manager Engr. Eusebio Monserate, Jr. said the entire airport workforce is excited for the eventual reopening of international flights as travel starts to pick up again.
“Damu na pasahero dahil sa paghaluga sang requirements sa Aklan. May mga airline companies gusto magdugang sang flights sa Kalibo [There are now more passengers as Aklan has relaxed its requirements. Some airline companies are wishing for additional flights to Kalibo],” he said.
Currently, flights to Kalibo airport are limited and are being served only by Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific, and Air Asia Philippines.
Monserate is confident local transport and small businesses at the Kalibo airport will recover along with the number of passengers.
“We will return to pre-pandemic levels,” he said.
From November 16, the province of Aklan has been recognizing vaccination certificates or vaccination cards issued by local government units, which means fully vaccinated travelers will no longer need to submit swab or saliva test results. (Boy Ryan Zabal/iNews-Aklan/Boracay Bureau)