By Joyce Ann L. Rocamora
SAFE HERE. Boracay gets a World Travel and Tourism Council Safe Travels Stamp for destinations, formally awarded by the DOT on Wednesday (July 8, 2021). The resort island is known for its long stretch of white sand beach. (Photo by DOT Philippines/Denison Manuel)
MANILA (Philippines News Agency)– Boracay Island just became one of the two Philippine destinations to receive the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) Safe Travels Stamp next to Baguio City, indicating it has adopted globally recognized health protocols.
The Department of Tourism (DOT) also awarded the stamp to 11 hotels namely, Le Soleil de Boracay, Discovery Shores Boracay, Shangri-la’s Boracay Resort, Hue Boracay, Wald’s Place, Amable Suites, Lime Hotel, The Lind Boracay, Movenpick Resort & Spa Boracay, Villa Caemilla Beach Boutique Hotel, and Belmont Hotel Boracay.
DOT Western Visayas Regional Director Cristine Mansinares said the WTTC gave the certificate last March 2021, which means it recognized Boracay has adopted a “touchless economy” and that its contact tracing works.
“It is good news that we welcome because this will also boost the confidence of our travelers, especially our international tourists later on when we reopen to our international markets,” she told reporters in a press conference on Wednesday.
The WTTC Safe Travels Stamp is the world’s first safety and hygiene stamp for travelers to recognize governments and businesses that have adopted global health standardized protocols.
In a statement, Tourism chief Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said: “Keeping our tourism workers and tourists safe will be a great leap forward in our ongoing quest to get the tourism industry back on its feet. Bringing tourists back to Boracay, the country’s tourism crown jewel, in a safe and sustainable manner is a critical part of the plan.”
Albeit slowly, tourist arrivals on the island had increased since it first reopened its shores to tourists amid the pandemic in June 2020.
From 81 tourists in June 2020, Aklan Governor Florencio Miraflores said the number grew to thousands this year.
He said arrivals reached around 11,000 in January 2021, with the highest at 26,354 recorded last month. From July 1 to 7, the number is also nearing 7,000.
As Boracay starts inoculating its tourism workers, Romulo-Puyat is hoping the island’s “dream of a travel bubble” will soon be realized.
“The only way right now that you could do a travel bubble is if the people in the destination themselves, the majority are also vaccinated,” she said.
Romulo-Puyat also believes the vaccine rollout for Boracay tourism workers on Wednesday is a step towards attracting more tourists, citing a similar model in Phuket, Thailand, which only reopened to tourists from certain countries when its population was already 70 percent vaccinated.
“We want out tourism front-liners to be vaccinated kasi kahit na RT-PCR pa ‘yan or whatever, they need to be protected, kasi ang tagal na nilang walang hanapbuhay kung magkasakit sila kawawa naman (even if it’s RT-PCR or whatever, they need to be protected, they lost their jobs for so long, we need them protected),” she said. (PNA)