In the Time of Covid-19, How is Boracay Doing?
Lory Joyce Andagan | April 02, 2020
Photos courtesy of Tiffany Marie Somes
Hailed as an island with one of the best beaches in the world, Boracay is surely a must-visit! Sadly, when COVID-19 started, the tourism industry was affected. Because of the pandemic, most canceled their reservations while many tourists were stranded on the island. For an area that relies heavily on the influx of tourists, it was not easy for Boracay to cope, leaving many wondering: how is Boracay right now?
Before the enhanced community quarantine, tourist traffic on the island was already decreasing. As early as February, hotel management teams on the island were already mapping out coping strategies in order to mitigate the impact on their businesses. One hotel started to give voluntary leave for the staff. “We continued to operate but with a skeletal staff. They are highly protected with a personalized mask matching their uniforms, strict thermal scanning, and sanitation,” says Tiffany Somes, Operations Manager.
When the community quarantine implemented, they called for a general meeting to ask the staff on their opinions and suggestions. The majority of the staff preferred to go home as soon as possible to be with their families. Eventually, the hotel decided to stop operations. “We cannot risk having the remaining staff exposed. We asked our guests to transfer to other hotels. Our staff safety is our priority,” says Somes. The remaining staff who were not able to go home chose to pray and conduct devotionals for the health and safety of their team members who opted to rejoin their families. They have also busied themselves while waiting for this crisis to end by repainting and repairing for the hotel in preparation for their reopening.
While most of the hotels tried to keep everyone safe, there are other vulnerable sectors greatly affected in this crisis like tricycle drivers and boatmen who depend on the tourists for their daily earnings. Some volunteers decided to give them relief goods and face masks, with immediate distribution planned as soon as possible. The IP community in Boracay also decided to close their Ati Center as early as January for the safety of their community.
Boracay Island is no stranger to weathering storms, after recently facing the closure of the entire island for rehabilitation last 2018. With the current pandemic necessitating another lockdown of Boracay's famed sandy shores, hundreds of businesses will surely be affected once again.
Despite such a bleak situation, what is amazing that the locals still manage to retain a spirit of optimism, holding on to the saying: “A minor setback for a major comeback!” With this kind of positivity that abounds around the island, it is certain that Boracay will rise to boast of its picturesque beauty to the world again.