President Rodrigo Duterte is urging Filipinos to go on vacation, Malacañang said Monday, about six months into varying degrees of lockdown meant to contain the coronavirus pandemic.
“The message of the President is we need to live in spite of COVID-19. We can do that by taking care of our lives so that we can earn a living. It is time for us to take a vacation after a very long lockdown, especially in Metro Manila,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said from Boracay, where he observed the island’s reopening to tourists.
Roque shared a photo of himself enjoying the view on the white sand beach of Boracay, which he called his “happy place.”
On Oct. 1, Boracay started accepting visitors from Metro Manila and elsewhere in the country, while the mountain city of Baguio reopened to tourists from Ilocos Region.
This developed as Aklan Governor Florencio Miraflores said tourists may only need to pay a quarter of the original room rates in some establishments in Boracay, as local authorities sought to lure more visitors to the resort island that the coronavirus pandemic had shuttered for half a year.
“Tour operators and tourist establishments agreed to give as much as 75-percent discount on room rates to offset the cost of RT-PCR tests that are a bit expensive,” Miraflores said in a press briefing.
Those who want to visit Boracay need a negative PCR coronavirus test result 48 to 72 hours before their trip. They also need to register online, the tourism department earlier said. Boracay tourists should also wear anti-virus masks "all the time" and observe physical distancing.
Boracay reopened to tourists from across the country last Thursday after initially welcoming only travelers from Western Visayas.
The resort island closed for 6 months last year to give way to a rehabilitation of its sewage system. It reopened in October 2019, only to be shuttered again by the pandemic last March.
Boracay remains free of COVID-19 after 135 tourists arrived on the island between Oct. 1 and 3, said Miraflores.
Tourists can call hotline 152 should they need medical assistance, the governor said.