Bohol Gov. Arthur Yap speaking to stakeholders at an online event on the prospects for Bohol tourism during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Bohol Gov. Arthur Yap has urged the government to transfer Covid-19 vaccines from “brand-conscious” areas to those willing to receive them, like Bohol, to help the local tourism industry survive the pandemic.

Yap has been lobbying Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat to prioritize tourism workers in the national vaccination program, such as those from Panglao and Dauis towns.

“Why don’t you send the vaccines to Bohol?” Yap told government representatives in an online discussion on the prospects of Bohol tourism, hosted by the provincial capitol on Monday, May 24.

In the same forum, Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion explained that the national government and the business sector had decided to prioritize vaccination in the National Capital Region and neighboring provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal (NCR Plus), which accounted for 60% of gross domestic product.

Making NCR Plus a “success story,” Concepcion said, would build confidence and encourage banks to lend to small and medium-sized enterprises.

“It’s challenging balancing life and livelihood,” he said. “Maintaining balance is almost impossible.”

Yap said Panglao and Dauis, separated by bridge from mainland Bohol, might also be a “success story” given the chance.

“If there is that market (willing to get shots), all we are asking for is to let the willing get vaccinated!” the governor said.

Yap said Bohol had the highest number of vaccinated health workers in Central Visayas, showing that Boholanons were willing to get shots to revive the tourism-dependent local economy.

Yap asked for some 150,000 shots for Panglao and Dauis, where the Panglao International Airport and pristine beaches and tourist attractions are located.

Puyat, a former subordinate of Yap when he was agriculture secretary, backed her former boss, saying that getting Panglao and Dauis fully vaccinated would allow tourists to enter the bubble without the mandatory quarantine.

Reacting to Yap’s statement, Concepcion promised to ask private sector stakeholders, especially those in the tourism industry, if they could donate shots to Bohol.

Major airline companies, the Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific, and AirAsia, echoed the need for vaccination in places where economic and tourism activities are concentrated, like Bohol, Boracay, Siargao, and Cebu. Ryan Sorote