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Recovery flights set for stranded tourists in Boracay, Siargao

WAITING FOR A RIDE Tourists stranded on Boracay Island now wait for flights out of the island. —NESTOR P. BURGOS JR.

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.

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“Secretary [Bernadette Romulo-Puyat] has directed us to do everything for all our tourists,” Tourism Undersecretary Arturo Boncato Jr. told the Inquirer.

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Boncato said the affected tourists in Boracay had 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.

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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, the DOT has registered around 1,000 stranded tourists, requiring at least five flights to transport them out of the region if a 180-seater plane will be used.

“The airlines have ceased operations and [local government units] have imposed quarantine measures. We have to go through these in order for us to safely bring them out,” Boncato said.

He 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.

In Cebu, at least 374 stranded foreign nationals were flown to Manila from Mactan Cebu International Airport (MCIA) via “recovery flights” mounted by Philippine Airlines (PAL) since Wednesday.

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Together with airport stakeholders, MCIA has been assisting stranded passengers affected by the government-imposed travel restrictions and cancellations of domestic flights in Cebu.

“MCIA will continue to serve the needs of the Filipinos and foreign travelers as one airport community, through good and challenging times,” an MCIA press statement read.

PAL has announced special flights for foreign nationals with confirmed return flights to their home countries through Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila.

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TAGS: Boracay Island, COVID-19 travel restrictions, Department of Tourism, Recovery flights
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