You will never walk on Boracay’s White Beach or swim in the island’s clear waters ever again—for the rest of your life.
“Unless you change your face and your name,” Malay Mayor Floribar Bautista quipped when asked about the travelers the local government declared personae non grata for faking their PCR test results to enter Boracay.
The mayor reiterated that the ban is not just for the duration of the pandemic or until they lift the health requirements. The ban is for life.
On Dec. 7, six tourists were arrested in Boracay for falsifying their COVID tests to enter the island; they arrived two days earlier, on Dec. 5. In January, individuals from two groups were also caught and ejected out of the island for the same reason. In February, the Department of Tourism filed raps against six Manila-based tourists for Falsification of Public Documents, three of whom tested positive for COVID 19.
A Boracay-based business owner who requested anonymity told PhilSTAR L!fe that such tourists were not just endangering other tourists but also businesses and locals because once a guest tests positive the entire resort is ordered to shut down for several days or weeks. One of the groups that was picked up and escorted out of the island was checked in at a high-end resort away from White Beach. He said it’s not just the resort that suffers, it’s also the small businesses the tourists visited—like cafes and shops along White Beach or the main road—on the recommendation of the LGU’s contact tracing team.
Considered the crown jewel in Philippine tourism, Boracay consistently ranks on top of the lists of Condé Nast and Tripadvisor’s Best Island Destinations and Best Beaches in the World.
Boracay has no other industry except tourism. Please come, we need your money in order for the people on this island to survive.
Today, White Beach’s water is cleaner and clearer than ever because the COVID lockdown happened just a year and four months after it reopened following a six-month closure for rehabilitation in 2018.
Boracay is one of many destinations in the Philippines that are keeping their negative RT-PCR test requirement after the IATF’s confusing Resolution 101 “lifting the mandatory COVID test requirement.”
Boracay lost P57 billion in 2020 due to the pandemic and lockdown, according to Bautista. “Boracay has no other industry except tourism. Please come, we need your money in order for the people on this island to survive,” he appealed.
From the time Boracay reopened on Oct. 1, 2020 to January 2021, the island was receiving only about 300 to 400 guests a day or 5 to 6.6% of its pre-COVID arrivals of 6,000 a day.
At the airport ceremonies and a beach press conference following the arrival of AirSwift’s inaugural flight from Manila to Caticlan, Bautista said that Boracay is currently getting about 800 tourists a day or 13% of pre-COVID numbers.
He appealed to visitors to respect the island’s rules and practice responsible tourism. He stressed that the PCR test requirement is not just for the protection of tourists but also for the community and workers.
Malay Tourism Officer Felix delos Santos said, “Boracay has rested and has been taken care of properly. Even the island’s ecosystem has recovered. The sunset and sunrise are better than ever as you don’t share them with a lot of tourists at this time. The promos go from 50 to 70% by select properties. We are ready when you’re ready.”
Mayor Bautista said that Boracay is unlikely to lift the PCR test for now, not even temporarily for the Holy Week break. “The governor just issued Executive Order No. 5. No changes at all. Since Boracay is a special case, all the guidelines and requirements are still subject for approval.”
He said they’ve submitted a proposal to shift from swab to saliva testing and the lifting of other requirements.
“It’s all about sustainability,” Delos Santos added. “It’s a balance between the tourism industry and the work environment. Talagang kailangan natin ng responsible tourists. We have requirements to protect our island—and our top priority is the safety of everyone.”