Boracay Island

Aklan’s tourist clearance system struggles with Boracay arrival surge 

Jun Aguirre
Aklan’s tourist clearance system struggles with Boracay arrival surge 

READY FOR TOURISTS. Boracay Island, Philippines.

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Provincial officials urge tourists to submit their applications for QR codes at least 24 hours prior to their flight

The Aklan provincial government’s system that issues QR codes to tourists crashed on Tuesday, November 16, following the huge volume of tourists who want to visit world-famous Boracay Island.

Selwyn Ibaretta, spokesman of the provincial coronavirus task force, said in a text message on Tuesday night that they received reports of stranded tourists at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport as they had no QR code for entry into Aklan.

Airlines require Boracay-bound travelers to secure a QR code before they can board an aircraft bound for Caticlan Airport, the gateway for tourists coming from outside Western Visayas.

Ibaretta said the problem stemmed from a lack of validators. Of the 20 employed by the province to process tourist applications, only nine were at work on November 16.

“The others didn’t report to work because they were overwhelmed by the surge of tourists wanting to visit Boracay,” Ibaretta said. Some workers resigned and some called in sick due to fatigue, but the local Inter-Agency Task Force spokesman said the province already hired replacements on Wednesday, November 17.

Ibaretta urged tourists to submit their application for QR codes at least 24 hours prior to their flight.

The Aklan provincial government is currently processing some 1,000 to 1,500 daily applications for the QR code, which serves as a contact tracing tool of the Aklan provincial government for tourists visiting Boracay.

The surge of tourists happened after Aklan Governor Florencio Miraflores announced that fully vaccinated tourists no longer have to take the reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test.

Those who do not yet have their second COVID-19 vaccine dose and the unvaccinated still need to submit a negative RT-PCR test apart from the QR code.

A social media post of Lenmar Davidon, a tourist from Bacolod City, went viral also on Tuesday as it showed him holding a tarpaulin with an enlarged printed copy of his QR code.

“I decided to do this to ensure my entry to Boracay Island. It is difficult to travel to Boracay because of some travel restrictions,” he said.

According to the Malay Tourism Office, from November 1 to 14 this year, Boracay has registered 24, 355 tourists. Of these, more than half or 13, 580 came from the National Capital Region. – Rappler.com