Key vacation spots in the Philippines are upscaling the vaccination drive for their hospitality frontliners and residents to enable them to open up to more tourists, especially from abroad.
The province of Bohol, for instance, started vaccinating management and employees of hotels and resorts in Panglao Island over the weekend, after receiving 10,000 vaccine doses from the national government.
The shipment of 5,000 doses of Sputnik V and 5,000 doses of Sinovac were personally received by Bohol Gov. Arthur Yap on June 16.
Boracay Island, the crown jewel of Philippine tourism, has also been vaccinating its residents since May 26. Malay Mayor Frolibar Bautista and private stakeholders earlier requested the national government and the Department of Tourism (DOT) for vaccines good for 40,000 islanders.
The vaccines currently being distributed to Boracaynons come from the Aklan provincial government’s allocation from the national government—Sinovac and AstraZeneca.
Businessman and Compliance Association of Boracay President Virgilio Sacdalan said, “If tourism frontliners and the community here on the island will be vaccinated, it will create a bubble immediately, considering we have a small population of 40,000.”
He added, “We can start accepting international direct flights [and] this will help our tourism industry bounce back.” Prior to the pandemic, Boracay received some 2 million foreign and domestic visitor arrivals.
The Department of Tourism has been pushing to include more tourism frontliners in the vaccination priority list, to help the industry rebound. The Philippine Statistics Authority last week reported the tourism direct gross value added slumped by 61.2 percent to P973.31 billion in 2020, due to pandemic travel restrictions. The sector’s contribution to the local economy’s output was just 5.4 percent, compared to 12.8 percent in 2019.