Resigned hope. If I had to describe the collective mood on Boracay – as a Malay resident who is a foreigner – I’d have to say people are resigned to the fact the pandemic has altered their lives for the foreseeable future, but they also have hope more tourists come back eventually to lift the local economies.
Boracay Island opened to domestic tourists on October 1. Officials call it a “soft” re-launch. This is what it was like.
If you are looking for the latest rules and some flight options to get here, they are at the bottom of this post.
Boracay Island opens
There is a huge banner at the port that reads “Welcome to COVID-free Boracay” to welcome visitors.
I arrived on the resident boat. Tourists use different boats at the same port. We all see the same sign. We all get into the same E-trikes.
Motorized trikes gone
Something new on opening day: E-trikes leaving the port heading require your name, age, address, and contact number.
Another new thing: no motorized trikes. Not one single one. The only public transportation option now is E-trikes, as the gas guzzlers have been phased out. I am not sure what will happen if there is a power outage, which has occurred every so often in the 6+ months we have lived in Malay.
More stores and shops open
Many more stores and shops are open than have been over the last several months since the pandemic caused businesses to shut down. However, not all are open. In fact, in D’Mall, it seemed to me to be nearly the same. If 20% of stores were open prior to October 1, on October 1 it seemed to me about 25-30% of stores were open.
The larger difference was more noticeable to me on the main road, and on the road leaving the port. More souvenir stands were open, a few more restaurants, more grocery and convenience stores seemed better stocked.
It’s as if some shopkeepers had measured hope for increased business — eventually. I think everyone realizes the booming days are not returning now, or in the near future.
On the famous White Beach — I found bliss, as always. I also found I had it mostly to myself, as usual. No major throngs of tourists… yet.
There were still some vendors on the beach, which began about a month ago. Local people are so desperate for income, they have shirked the rules of no beach selling. Hats, sunglasses, cheap jewelry, and more.
I didn’t see any children climbing trees for coconuts, and I did see more police patrols.
In fact, guards and police gathered around a dead sea turtle left by high tide, and I was surprised to see so many officers. It appears the vendors had success avoiding them.
During my day trip to Boracay, I went swimming, went to a cafe (Real Coffee, which has been open for months for locals — NOT Starbucks), visited a friend, and accompanied another friend to a few medical consultations.
I talked to wait staff, medical staff, E-trike drivers, and people on the beach. Every person from Boracay shared with me they didn’t expect a tourist ‘boom’ — but they had hoped for a greater number of visitors.
They all say they will keep hoping for increased tourism. As one local said, ‘What else can we do?’
After all, the pandemic rules decisions these days.
Boracay Island open: domestic tourist rules, Air Asia flight schedule
The rules and reminders for domestic tourists to Boracay are below.
The first two graphics below are by the Department of Tourism. The third graphic is by Air Asia on its flight schedule. (Note, Air Asia is only one of three airlines permitted to fly into Aklan Province.) For more information on flights, go to this post.
To see enlarge the graphics, tap/click on them.
Thanks for reading, “Boracay Island open to domestic tourists.”
What to read next about Malay Municipality and Aklan Province:
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- Panay Island wins travel award (includes Malay as a reason)
- Perfect dive spot near Boracay
- Aklan’s ‘other’ white beach – Jawili