NEEDED BOOST. Photo shows tourists at the beachfront of Boracay Island. The local government of Malay welcomes the visit of President Rodrigo Duterte on the island to prove that the country is safe for travel amid the novel coronavirus scare. (File photo)  

ILOILO CITY – Tourism in Boracay in Malay, Aklan, which has been affected by the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) which has now become an international health concern is expected to somehow boost activities in the island with the scheduled visit of President Rodrigo Duterte.

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat bared on Monday that the President is set to prove that destinations, particularly Boracay, Cebu, and Bohol, are safe from the 2019-nCoV.

Puyat said the President will “start traveling around the country to show that it’s safe.”

The President will also be taking “commercial (flight) and go through the proper protocols to show that it’s safe to travel around the country,” she added.

In a phone interview on Tuesday, Malay town Mayor Floribar Bautista said the visit of the President is welcome to lift the tourism industry hurt by the 2019-nCoV scare.

“We are ready for his visit,” Bautista said.

The President taking commercial flights for his visit will also be an opportunity for the local government to show and prove that precautionary measures against the spread of the virus are in place in the ports of entry.

Bautista has estimated that the 2019-nCoV has caused a 30 to 40 percent drop in tourist arrival.

The local government of Malay is joining the campaign to boost domestic tourism after the Department of Tourism in Western Visayas (DOT 6) pushed for intra-regional tourism since the ban on international flights coming from China due to the 2019-nCoV scare started.

“That is how it is supposed to be. In spite that we have problems outside of the country, the local visitors can keep our tourism industry alive,” Bautista said.

He noted that the temporary suspension of the entry of all persons with travel history to China, Macao, and Hong Kong for the past 14 days to the municipality starting Feb. 7 has helped in securing Malay town from the possible entry of the virus.

The said action, established through Executive Order No. 04 series of 2020, deploys border patrols to the boundaries of Malay to check passengers’ travel history especially tourists.

The border patrols composed of the local police station, the Philippine National Police mobile force company, the Philippine Army, Municipal Auxiliary Police, Malay Municipal Health Office and Municipal Tourism Office are guarding the boundaries 24/7.

“It’s the fifth day of our checkpoint and we are satisfied with the result,” the mayor said.

He said Boracay Island and Malay town remain nCoV-free. (PNA