Aklan execs to gov’t: Prioritize Boracay folk in vaccine drive to revive tourism


PERFECT DESTINATION Boracay Island, at this time of the year, is the perfect summer destination but travel and health restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic have slowed down tourism activities in the country’s top beach destination. —JACK JARILLA

ILOILO CITY—Several business owners and residents in Boracay have started looking for ways to speed up the vaccination of locals to ensure the recovery of the resort island from the devastation wrought by travel and quarantine restrictions due to the pandemic.

Officials of Malay town in Aklan province have also called on the national government to prioritize the vaccine rollout in Boracay to save its multibillion-peso tourism industry.

But business owners and some residents on the island said they started discussing the possible purchase of vaccines for their employees and family members as they await the government’s action. The terms are still being finalized and will also depend on the number of people who would place orders for vaccines, they said.

Several areas on the island have been placed on lockdown due to a spike in COVID-19 cases.

The local government of Malay reported nine more cases in Boracay on May 3, bringing the total to 262 since the pandemic started. These include 42 active cases, 219 recoveries and one death.

In a resolution, the municipal council of Malay urged the Department of Tourism, Department of Health, Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force and Aklan provincial government to provide more vaccines for Boracay.

They pointed out that Boracay had significantly contributed to the country’s tourism revenues and in drawing tourists to the country.

“The national government should realize that prioritizing Malay and Boracay in its COVID-19 vaccination program will help restore travel confidence of other governments in the Philippines, Boracay Island being in the front lines of tourism,” according to the resolution.

They said the immunization of the entire population of the town, including Boracay Island’s 30,000 residents, will help restore visitor confidence to safely travel to the island.

The island has been severely battered by travel restrictions with many business establishments closed or on limited operations.

Tourist arrivals from April 1 to April 30 reached 1,481, way below the 3,000 to 5,000 daily arrivals before the pandemic struck.

—NESTOR P. BURGOS JR. INQ

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