Airline company AirAsia has issued its support to business groups calling for the creation of ‘bubbles’ for island destinations – Panglao and Boracay.

The move is in response to Panglao Tourism Council’s proposal to accommodate tourist arrivals from various parts of the Philippines including the NCR Plus, which has now transitioned to general community quarantine (GCQ).

Panglao Island in Bohol. Photo by Reinhard Dirscher via Getty Images

Panglao Island in Bohol. Photo by Bruno Perousse / Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

According to Panglao Councilor Aya Montero-Caindec, they’ve already established an effective strategy to prevent the spread of coronavirus in commercial spots to kickstart tourism in the area once again.

“Panglao LGU is equipped to fully operate with our established health and safety guidelines governing the businesses, tourists and local residents to mitigate the spread of virus in our island,” Montero-Caindec said.

“If we must, we will again adapt the tourism bubble strategy to ensure a conditioned balance of priority of health and safety and fully work towards unimpeded resuscitation of our tourism economic recovery,” she explained further.

Panglao Tourism Council will sit down with the Panglao Chamber of Commerce and Industry to officially lodge their request to reopen the island for tourism.

Due to tourism inactivity in the last two months, Panglao has incurred a P124 million loss in gross tourism receipt.

Meanwhile, the Boracay Chamber of Commerce (BCC) expressed the same sentiments. The organization is requesting for tourism workers on the island to be put on the vaccine priority list.

BCC President Wesley van der Voort said putting tourism workers on the priority list for vaccines will help the island recover from the losses it incurred due to being inactive.

“We know that travelers both domestic and abroad are very eager to return to Boracay. By vaccinating the priority list as well as all tourism workers, we can confidently open-up tourism on a broader scale, restart the sleeping economic profit engine, and the Department of Tourism (DOT) can promote the ‘Crown Jewel of the Philippine Tourism’ as #VaccinatedBoracay confidently, loud and proud,” van der Voort explained.

Boracay has missed out on P49 billion in potential tourism revenues in 2020 because of the pandemic and suffered from an 80 percent drop in tourism arrivals, the Department of Tourism in Region 6 said.

Boracay Island during the pandemic. Photo by Ezra Acayan via Getty Images

Boracay Island during the pandemic. Photo by Ezra Acayan via Getty Images

For their part, AirAsia says the opening up of these tourist destinations through ‘bubbles’ will help communities affected by the pandemic to recover and grow economically.

“Undeniably, tourism is the bread and butter of these island destinations. Our efforts of putting high value safety are slowly paying off,” said AirAsia Philippines spokesperson Steve Dailisan.

“As with our past experiences, the tourism bubble has been proven to be an effective measure in keeping the balance between opening economic activities and ensuring the well-being of everyone,” he noted.

As of May 17, there are only 10 active cases of COVID-19 in Boracay while Panglao Island registered 16 asymptomatic cases.

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Image credit: Ezra Acayan via Getty Images; AirAsia Philippines Official Facebook Page