Kids and pets rule on Boracay Island


BORACAY Island is slowly reclaiming its popularity as the crown jewel of Philippine tourism with the “Undas” holiday last weekend proving to be a good opportunity for families to take a vacation.

Data from the Malay tourism office showed 32,452 arrivals from October 1 to 31, with the highest numbers coming in on the last three days of the month—1,965 on October 29; 2,371 on October 30; and 2,077 on the 31st. Per age breakdown, infants until the age of 12 were the second-largest group of arrivals at 2,420, after those aged 13 and 59, who numbered 29,305. Senior citizens, or those aged 60 years and above were only 727.

The bulk of the arrivals at 22,251, or some 69 percent of total, came from the National Capital Region (NCR). In second place were tourists from Region 6 (Western Visayas) at 3,895, and Region 4A (Calabarzon) at 2,935.

Malay Councilor Nenette Aguirre-Graf attributed the increased number of child visitors “to the government’s move to remove age restrictions on inter-zonal travel.” As with adult visitors, children are also supposed to get swabbed for Covid-19 prior to entry to Boracay. Aklan Gov. Florencio Miraflores earlier announced that once Boracay residents are fully vaccinated, the RT-PCR requirement will be removed for vaccinated visitors.

67% fully vaxxed

As of November 4, 2021, some 94 percent of Boracay’s estimated population of 34,930, have already received their first dose of the vaccine versus Covid-19, while close to 67 percent have been fully vaccinated, according to data from the Department of Tourism (DOT). Vaccination of the island’s tourism workers, currently estimated at 12,809, has also moved at a quick pace. Over 98 percent have received their first jabs, while those who received their second jabs are close to 93 percent of total. There are currently zero Covid cases on the island, according to the Malay local government.

Jenna (not her real name), who works in a popular resort on the island, told the BusinessMirror she was among those who were “excited” to get her vaccine. “We’re always meeting guests, talking with them face-to-face, so we have to be vaccinated so they know they are safe to stay with us,” she said in Ilonggo.

For his part, Randy Salvador, resort manager of COAST Boracay said he is “happy” with the arrival of more guests during the All Saints’ Day/All Souls’ Day break. As Boracay is still under general community quarantine, resorts are only allowed to accept guests up to 50 percent of operations. Unfortunately, this also means less employees are working.                                 

“We’re working hard to ensure all our staff who were with us before are able to return to work. Slowly but surely, we will get there,” he stressed.

Not cited in the tourist numbers is the growing number of pets, mostly dogs, visiting the island with their human families. Thirty-something couple Chiqui and Danny, said they brought their “baby,” a poodle named Charlie, to Boracay so it too, could have “a break.”  They flew by air charter to the island “so we wouldn’t encounter any hassles in bringing Charlie.” They are staying on the island for “11 weeks” to recharge, they said, after being “cooped up” in Metro Manila for close to two years because of the pandemic.

Restaurateur Nowie Potenciano said he too appreciated the rising number of visitors to the island. “While it’s still far from the 6,000 [arrivals] a day, we’re very much improved,” he noted, compared to the previous months. Data from the DOT showed only 6,702 visitors to the island in September, and just 24 in August, when NCR went into its third extreme lockdown.

At Potenciano’s restaurant Spicebird, which reopened at its new location at D’Mall, he shared that he had ran out certain items on the menu last Monday, due to the sheer volume of visitors over the Undas weekend. “I’m not complaining; it’s a happy problem to have,” he said.

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