From welcome drinks to rubbing alcohol: 5 things about Boracay’s new normal

Planning on a family vacation in the country’s paradise soon? Things might get a bit awkward as the local government of Aklan has taken up steps to protect its residents and the businesses surrounding Boracay.

In fact, since opening its borders to domestic tourists from Western Visayas last June 16, the provincial government started to embrace the new normal. It’s not clear, however as to when it will welcome visitors from other parts of the Philippines and even foreigners.

But the Department of Tourism bared that in the next few weeks, they will be discussing the possibility of accepting more beachgoers after testing the implementation of health protocols.

Meanwhile, the local government units of other top destinations such as Bohol and Palawan are still hesitant with regards to reopening the industry.

Here are some of the changes that are being enforced in the country’s premier tourist destination.

1. No more welcome drinks. Forget about grand entrance at the hotel as welcome drinks will not be served in the new normal. Instead, visitors shall expect free hand sanitizers, face masks and anti-bacterial wipes.

2. Health declaration form. Guests will be asked to fill out a digital health declaration form to be submitted upon entry at the Caticlan Port. This will be given by their hotel of choice together with the reservation and QR code. The declaration form is an important tool for contact tracing in case that a tourist is infected with COVID-19.

3. Contactless interaction. There is no need for queuing at the front desk for checking-in. The QR code will be scanned before entering to lessen interaction. By using mobile phones, guests will just go through a system without touching anything. The code contains check-in details, names of personnel on duty and contact numbers for assistance especially if COVID-19 symptoms would manifest after.

4. No hotel reservation, no entry policy. This will remain in effect to control the volume of tourists in the island. It was implemented after completing a 6-month rehabilitation in 2018 led by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. Visitors will be allowed to enter Boracay provided that they present valid and confirmed hotel booking.

5. Food delivery. DOT has directed hotel accommodations to implement a system of food delivery wherein guests may pick-up their order at a particular section or grab-and-go stations instead of bringing it outside their room. Room service is highly discouraged as well.

Domestic tourism’s contribution

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat earlier called on the public to support local tourism amidst the pandemic as billions of revenues were lost and the economy is shrinking.

In 2018, 11.1 percent of the country’s tourism contribution to the GDP (gross domestic product) which translates to P1.9 trillion came from domestic tourism. During the same year, more than 100 million Filipinos have travelled around the Philippines.

The cabinet official is confident that despite these protective measures, the Filipino brand of service is present and the spirit of the campaign slogan “It’s More Fun in the Philippines” remains.

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