Unpopular opinion: Boracay’s strict entry rules don’t deserve tourists’ hate

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In a matter of days, We will be closing 2020 still clinging to the tile of having the longest lockdown period of any country in the world. Caution fatigue hasn’t just set in; it has settled comfortably in our minds, so much so that we’ve decided that going to Divisoria in packs or attending public gatherings was a good idea.

It isn’t, not by a long shot. And neither is complaining about the hassle of acquiring travel documents. Case in point: tourists entering Boracay.

As you may recall, Boracay was reopened to the public last October 1. This came with the condition, as with any other travel destination, that visiting tourists present the requirements set by the local government of Aklan declaring they are negative to the coronavirus. These are the following:

  • A duly-accomplished Health Declaration Card which should be done online;
  • A negative RT-PCR result provided by a DOH-accredited laboratory, taken within 72 hours of declared travel date;
  • A copy of their confirmed booking from a DOT-accredited accommodation;
  • A copy of their confirmed round-trip flight and itinerary details, and;
  • A proof of identification that manifests their Philippine Residency;

Upon submission via e-mail, these then have to be validated before visiting tourists can get their Tourist QR Code. This is necessary to safely pass through any entry and exit ports on the island. 

Sounds taxing, right? That’s what foreign tourists and the businesses in Boracay thought too.

In the spirit of fairness, the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force (BIATF) acceded to their demands by also accepting the results of the much speedier rapid antigen test. The caveat of these rapid antigen tests, however, is that they tend to yield less accurate results than those of laboratory-tested polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests. The tourism ministry also voiced their interest to shoulder some of the costs of having tourists’ tests taken, as long as they take it within the Philippine General Hospital.

Perhaps this is a win for all involved — tourists have an easier (and cheaper) time entering Boracay, and businesses get to entertain more visitors. But really, what are we communicating when we compromise our standards for the sake of convenience?

While our caution fatigue is mostly caused by delayed government response to the pandemic, we have to remember that we still carry the brunt of contracting the virus when we go against minimum health standards. When the only reason we’re flying out and subjecting ourselves to such strictness is that we’re bored stiff at home, then the burden of compliance should be all the heavier.

We should stop acting like flying out and demanding lighter travel requirements is an act of generosity.

Boracay built its name on its vibrant tourism industry, and as does every other tourist destination in the Philippines, it needs people to enable it. But — and this is the bitter pill — we should stop acting like flying out and demanding lighter travel requirements is an act of generosity. Sorry, but it doesn’t do anyone but ourselves a favor.

The second we complain about strict travel protocols, we become no better than this government who has belittled COVID-19 from the get-go. Sure, our options for reprieve amid this trying time don’t look good but trust us, cabin fever is an easier enemy to fight than the coronavirus.


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