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Chinese tourists in Boracay: They traveled before ban or from countries with no ban, say execs

ILOILO CITY–To those asking how Chinese tourists are still able to enter Boracay despite a travel ban on China and its territories, aviation and immigration authorities have at least two answers—they came in before the ban or from places not covered by travel restrictions.

Eric Apolonio, spokesperson of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, said all direct flights between Hong Kong and mainland China to the Kalibo International Airport (KIA) and Iloilo International Airport have been suspended since Feb. 2.

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Direct flights between Wuhan City, the epicenter of the novel coronavirus outbreak, and KIA were also indefinitely suspended starting on Jan. 27.

Maria Consuelo Bungag, officer-in-charge of the public affairs department of the Manila International Airport Authority, said there are still incoming flights to the Ninoy International Aquino Airport from Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Fudong and Shanghai operated by international carriers.

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But she said these are bringing in Filipinos and foreign nationals holding permanent residence visas.

The continued entry of Chinese tourists into Boracay after President Rodrigo Duterte ordered travel restrictions has raised questions and concern from residents.

The Bureau of Immigration (BI) said the Chinese tourists could have come from countries not covered by travel bans.

“There were no reports of Chinese nationals entering through the Kalibo International Airport, Iloilo Airport and also the shipping ports,” said Dana Sandoval, BI spokesperson. “Most probably, these Chinese nationals arrived before the ban was implemented on Sunday,” Sandoval said.

She said airlines servicing routes between the Philippines and China and its two special administrative regions have canceled their flights.

The ban covers all foreign nationals, not only Chinese, who come from China and its territories.

Sandoval said Chinese nationals arriving from port of origins that are not covered by the travel ban, like Japan, are allowed entry into the Philippines.

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“If you are, for example, an American and you came from Hong Kong, you will be disallowed,” she said.

She said the entry restriction was based on passengers’ travel history and not on nationality.

Edited by TSB

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