Trapped by COVID-19 quarantine: 700 foreigners, including 500 in Boracay, sent home
ILOILO CITY—Nearly 700 foreign tourists, including 500 in Boracay, trapped by COVID-19 travel restrictions in Western Visayas had been extracted and flown to Manila and Cebu to return to their countries.
From March 19 and 23, the Department of Tourism (DOT) has mounted so-called sweeper flights for 694 foreign tourists.
These included a flight in Bacolod City with 147 foreign tourists on March 19 and a flight in Sipalay City in Negros Occidental with 19 foreigners, according to the regional DOT.
Two flights left the Caticlan airport in Malay town in Aklan carrying 528 foreign tourists from Boracay Island from March 21 to 22.
Two more flights are scheduled to fly out of Caticlan to Manila on Thursday (March 26).
The tourists were stranded when local flights were suspended in the enforcement of President Rodrigo Duterte’s enhanced community quarantine that covered only Luzon but was felt nationwide.
The DOT, in a statement, said 7,915 tourists have been removed from different tourist destinations and brought to Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila and Clark International Airport in Pampanga.
The tourists were flown in special flights of commercial airlines and chartered flights.
The DOT, said Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, said in a statement that the department was “doing everything within its resources to ease the congestion in the different regions by facilitating the movement of foreign tourists stranded in the different islands of the country.”
Foreigners who had been stranded in Boracay expressed gratitude to the DOT.
“We want to send a big ‘Thank You’ to all of you,” said a message by Swedish nationals Britt Marie Asaker Vestman and Lena Redebrant relayed by Julia Lervik, their host in Boracay.
“We are impressed in (sic) the way it was done,” the message read. “We got all the help we needed and are now home in Sweden. Again, thank you so much,” it continued.
Edited by TSB
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