Boracay Island’s summer wish: visitors, visitors, visitors

No man is an island, writes the poet John Donne, but in Boracay, no man is in the island.

Except for the few hundreds of Western Visayas folks who enjoy the famed white sand island in its tranquility, tour operators and service providers continue to lament the absence of foreign tourists.

According to the Malay Tourism Office, only 970 visitors traveled to Boracay from April 1 to April 18 with more than 90 percent from just within Western Visayas.

For the record, 222,230 guests from here and abroad visited the island in April 2019, the last summer Boracay experienced its usual influx of tourists trying to beat the heat. 

Last year, President Duterte placed the entire Philippines under lockdown. With enhanced community quarantine enforced in every region, all forms of travel were grounded and people were told to stay home.

This year, tourism enterprises in Boracay expected the situation to improve to a point where they can receive visitors this summer season.

In March, the island welcomed 17,400 travelers, its highest since reopening in October last year, and stakeholders were gearing up for a surge of tourists in April and May.

However, the only surge that happened was a spike in COVID-19 infections nationwide, as the government stumbled again to contain the spread of new variants.

The Malay Tourism Office last week said Boracay enterprises can no longer afford an extension of the lockdown in Metro Manila. It explained Boracay relies on almost tourism alone to fuel the livelihoods in its local communities.

“Onwards, we are awaiting for the new travel guidelines. [We are also] hoping for ease in travel restrictions when the National Capital Region declares general community quarantine,” the agency said in an online post.

“In addition, Boracay generally depends on tourism. The island needs tourists to economically survive. Tourists mean business to Boracay, it is an apparent necessity. The island is desperate to welcome the tourists once again when it’s already safe to travel,” it added.