Tourism Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat and National Task Force Against COVID-19 (NTF) Deputy Chief Implementer and testing czar Vince Dizon led the ceremonial vaccination of tourism workers in Boracay Island today, July 7 (Wednesday).
Puyat said that the inoculation program targets an initial 3,000 tourism workers. Of this number, 2,178 are employed in accommodation establishments, 308 in restaurants, and 140 in tourist transport, while 374 are tourism frontline personnel, including tour guides, boatmen, e-trike drivers, airport and seaport frontliners, and aqua/water sports providers.
She added that once the initial Covid-19 jabs of 3,000 have been given, this means that vaccinated workers in the island will increase to 12% from the previous 4.5 percent.
The workers were identified by the Local Government Unit (LGU) of Malay, in coordination with Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) Boracay, and Boracay Foundation Incorporated. To reach the target beneficiaries, 500 workers are expected to be inoculated daily.
“I am extremely grateful to our NTF Chief Implementer and Vaccine Czar, Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., our Testing Czar and Deputy Chief Implementer, Secretary Vince Dizon, and the rest of the NTF team, for making this possible. As promised by Sec. Vince, continuous supply of the vaccine will come, until we will be able to finally vaccinate the whole Boracay, and our dream of the travel bubble will finally be realized,” Puyat said in her speech during the opening ceremonies.
The tourism chief said that the combined efforts of DOT, the NTF, Provincial Government of Aklan, LGU-Malay, PCCI-Boracay, Boracay Foundation, Inc. and the Compliance Association of Boracay to vaccinate tourism workers in Boracay marks the initial phase of the target of 100 percent vaccination of all 40,000 residents and workers in the entire town of Malay.
Puyat also lauded the Filinvest Hospitality through Crimson Resort and Spa Boracay for donating a total of 5,000 doses to support the initiative. “We hope that others will continue this spirit of Bayanihan so more people in Boracay can get vaccinated faster,” she added.
“Understandably, among the top priorities for tourists traveling during this period are their health and safety. One of the ways we can ensure this is by getting our frontliners vaccinated as soon as possible, to give an extra layer of protection between them and our tourists,” added Puyat.
Puyat disclosed that in addition to the inoculation of tourism workers, the DOT will launch new tourism products for Boracay Island that are expected to attract more visitors, including a Boracay Biking Tour that will showcase the scenic terrain of the island, along with the Boracay Food Crawl, a deconstructed culinary experience which features the island’s iconic and diverse cuisine, and the Boracay Wellness Workation Program, which seeks to repackage the island as an office space and ideal wellness retreat destination.
On top of all of these, the DOT chief said the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) has funded Php 10 million for the conduct of mass testing of tourism workers and frontliners on the island.
Puyat also shared that the packages 1 and 2 of the Boracay drainage project of the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA), the infrastructure arm of the DOT, were successfully completed in December 2020, with the remaining packages now at 58.18 percent completion, bringing the total project completion rate to 69 percent as of June 2021.
Meanwhile, as of 24 May 2021, a total of 11,459 tourism workers in the entire Aklan Province including Boracay Island were approved to receive a Php 5,000 cash aid each through the joint financial assistance program of the DOT and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), with the equivalent assistance amounting to Php 57, 295,000.
WTTC Safe Travel Stamp
Secretary Puyat also led the awarding of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) Safe Travels Stamp to Boracay Island under LGU-Malay, and to eleven DOT-accredited accommodation establishments (AEs) 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 Camilla Beach Boutique Hotel, and Belmont Hotel Boracay.
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.
“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,” Puyat said.