DOT to continue recovery flights for foreign tourists stranded in Boracay
ILOILO CITY—The Department of Tourism (DOT) will continue to mount recovery flights for foreign tourists stranded on Boracay Island and other tourist destinations due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.
But there is still no fixed date when about 520 foreign tourists in Boracay and about 400 on Siargao Island will be transported to Manila to fly back to their home countries.
“Secretary (Bernadette Romulo Puyat) has directed us to do everything for all our tourists,” Tourism Undersecretary Arturo Boncato Jr. told the INQUIRER.
Boncato said the affected tourists in Boracay have been documented by its Western Visayas office and registered through an online database so that the tourists can easily be advised once they can be transported.
He said the DOT is working on mounting special flights through commercial planes “at the earliest possible time.”
The tourists were stranded after domestic flights were suspended as part of efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19.
In Western Visayas alone, the DOT regional office has registered around 1,000 stranded tourists so they can be transported to Manila or Clark before outbound international flights.
At least five flights are needed to transport all stranded foreign tourists in the region if a 180-seater plane will be used.
“The airlines have ceased operations and (local government units) have imposed quarantine measures. We gave to go through these in order for us to safely bring them out,” Boncato said.
Boncato said they have already mounted recovery flights for around 3,000 stranded foreign tourists nationwide.
On Thursday, 141 stranded foreign tourists in Negros Occidental were flown from Bacolod City to Manila.
Several business operators have earlier appealed for the DOT to provide flights for the stranded mostly European tourists in Boracay who have scheduled international flights starting Thursday evening.
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