Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 16) — Tourists visiting Boracay have been given leeway in securing a negative COVID-19 swab test before entry to the island.
“The Test-Before-Travel requirement now stands not earlier than 72 hours prior to the date of travel,” Harry Roque, spokesperson of the Inter-Agency Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases, said on Friday.
The adjustment comes two weeks after the island opened to all local tourists, and relaxes the original 48-hour window between testing and arrival in Aklan.
The Caticlan Airport – a short boat ride away from the white sand beaches – will be used solely by tourists entering the island by plane. A separate triage area has also been assigned for those traveling to Boracay by land, as the local government wants to limit the exposure of tourists to possibly infected locally-stranded Filipinos returning home.
Boracay saw less than a hundred tourists on the first few days when it was reopened to visitors from outside Western Visayas. The island is the first tourist destination that has officially opened nationwide.
Hotels and lodging facilities on the island have remained mostly empty, with local hotelier Henry Chusuey blaming the high cost and hassle of swab tests that keep people from traveling. Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat on Wednesday said she will propose the three-day window for tests to the IATF.
Aklan primarily depends on tourism, with some 20,000 people counting on the sector to make a living.