Tourism slumps in Boracay after gradual reopening
AKLAN, Philippines – Tourism isn't looking as rosy as expected as the number of tourists remained down for the last two weeks of June in Boracay.
Recent statistics showed 81 tourists arrived on the island from June 16 to June 30.
The number may not be enough to sustain the tourism industry in Western Visayas, which suffered setbacks following the global public emergency crisis brought on by the coronavirus.
Boracay was among the first places to feel the full impact of coronavirus pandemic.
Data from the Municipal Tourism Office also showed 888 Aklanons and 12,082 residents of Malay, Aklan visited the island for two weeks.
Boracay Island is working to encourage domestic travel after the island closed borders. On June 16, the island gradually reopened with restrictions while monitoring the health of incoming travelers.
Some resort operators decided not to open their businesses due to low demand of local tourists and the pandemic-induced economic slump.
The tourism department is pushing for travel bubbles or corridors to allow visitors from countries with low levels of coronavirus infection to go on a holiday for a quarantine-free travel at Boracay Island.
Other nations in Southeast Asia have already created air bridges for leisure travelers without having to self-isolate to enter the country.
Flights and travel have not yet resumed in Caticlan airport, the nearest airport to Boracay Island, although some 46 resorts and hotels with Certificate of Authority to Operate (CAO) from the Department of Tourism have already started to reopen.
Since mid-March, people were allowed to stay outside for essential trips while a curfew was enforced every night on the island.
Hotels are taking a lot of precautions and a wide gamut of health protocols to keep the employees and tourists healthy. The health guidelines are designed to make travelers feel safe when they stay in Boracay Island.
Meanwhile, face masks remain mandatory in public places, including restaurants, bars, markets, and stores.
Kalibo airport resumes commercial flights
Kalibo International Airport resumed its first regular scheduled flight between Manila and Kalibo on July 2 after the operations of local airlines were suspended in March due to the pandemic.
AirAsia Philippines Flight Z2 711, carrying 6 returning overseas Filipino workers, arrived at 10:34 am from Manila. The airline departed with 90 passengers on board Flight Z2 712 to Manila at 11:40 am.
“Out of more than 100 passengers screened in Manila airport only 6 repatriated workers were allowed to return home. The returning residents were then quarantined by their LGUs upon arrival,” said Kalibo airport manager Eusebio Monserate, Jr.
The repatriated workers had already tested negative for the coronavirus based on reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests before they were allowed to return home to Aklan province.
Monserate added the airport immigration, aviation, and health authorities would continue to implement health protocols in the day-to-day operations in Kalibo airport to ensure the safety and well-being of passengers and personnel. The airlines are also requiring travelers and employees to wear face masks on flights and to observe other precautionary measures in response to coronavirus pandemic.
Philippine Airlines, PAL Express, and Cebu Pacific have yet to mount their regular commercial flights to Kalibo. Both are to resume flights in July once demand and passenger volume increase given the fluidity of directives from government agencies.
Two flights per week between Manila and Kalibo are permitted for each airline starting July 1, easing the standoff on travel restrictions in the province of Aklan.
Sweeper flights and cargo flights were not affected by the government shutdown to limit the spread of coronavirus.
Aklan governor Florencio Miraflores reopened the Kalibo airport to passenger traffic to jump-start the tourism sector, however, the National Inter-Agency Task Force suspended the transport of arriving locally stranded individuals due to rising coronavirus cases in Iloilo and Negros Occidental. – Rappler.com