By Charlie Greene
This has been an amazing week for our little island.
My social media pages have been littered with posts of resorts and other businesses announcing their plans to ”soon open”. I know most of the owners personally and their new found enthusiasm after seven months of harsh lockdowns is, well, amazing.
The complicated maze of documentation, not to mention exorbitant costs in getting permits to open, had previously made many hesitant to move out of Boracay’s rut. But the sight of a few tourists walking along the beach with cases and bags in tow seems to have raised everyone’s spirits and hopes.
Our beautiful sunsets have been gazed upon by only a handful of residents since March, but walking along White Beach over the weekend, I saw maybe a hundred or so people enjoying the breathtaking views. I only recognized a few of them - plenty of refreshing new faces - tourists...
Walking past Mesa, Hap Chan and Nigis, all at Station 2, just before sunset, it was so good to see these popular places with crowds (well, a few tables - small crowds) eating and drinking. The waiters and waitresses have got their much needed jobs back again, and they were smiling for the first time in many months.
The Department of Tourism (DOT) and Local Government Units (LGU) appear to be making a concerted effort to bring tourism back to the Island. The above shows some semblance of success. But after talking to many friends in Manila, the stumbling block is the swab testing procedure, and indeed, the cost of it. Fees ranging from PHP5,500 to PHP12,000 are being charged for the required test, and a time factor of 48 hours (I believe it has just been amended to 72) between the test and departure time, is somewhat restrictive. My friend came down with three family members so they had to pay P22,000 just for the tests.
There’s some talk of the antigen test, which as well as being much cheaper, will produce a result in 15 minutes, becoming the new requirement for entrance onto Boracay. This, in my nonmedical, but business minded opinion, is exactly what we need to restart the island’s economy.
Just a little extra push and some common sense from the relevant authorities will further inspire business owners to take ”Closed” signs down and let Boracay start breathing again.