Boracay records pandemic high number of visitors in December
ILOILO CITY, Iloilo, Philippines — Tourist arrivals in Boracay reached a pandemic-high record in December as visitors flocked to the island for the holidays.
While still lower than prepandemic daily arrivals ranging from 4,000 to 6,000 tourists, the 113,596 travelers who visited the island-resort last month were the highest since January 2020, when 167,070 tourists went to the island just before travel was restricted when the COVID-19 pandemic struck two months after.
Out of the tourists recorded in December, 49,185, or 43 percent, were from Metro Manila. An overwhelming number (81,886, or 72 percent) traveled by plane, according to data from the municipal tourism office of Malay in Aklan where the popular island-resort is located.
As of Monday, officials of Aklan province and Malay have not taken any step to bar entry of tourists, amid a surge of COVID-19 cases in Metro Manila.
Last month’s tourist arrivals on the island surpassed the previous high of 67,343 in November last year.
Malay tourism officer Felix delos Santos said the significant increase in tourist arrivals in December was mainly due to the long holidays, with many families celebrating Christmas Day or New Year’s Day on the island.
Sidelined by ‘Odette’
Delos Santos said tourist arrivals in Boracay could have also increased as other popular tourists destinations were severely affected by Typhoon “Odette” (international name: Rai), which pummeled parts of Mindanao, Visayas and Luzon between Dec. 16 and Dec. 18.
Many tourist destinations, hotels and resorts were heavily damaged or destroyed on the islands of Bohol and Cebu in Central Visayas; Siargao Island in Surigao del Norte province; and Puerto Princesa City in Palawan province. Also severely affected were tourist destinations on Negros Island and the southern areas of Iloilo and Antique provinces on Panay Island.
Travel restrictions to Boracay Island were relaxed due to the significant drop in COVID-19 cases and after reaching the vaccination target for tourism front-line workers and residents.
Since Nov. 16, fully vaccinated tourists were allowed to visit the island by submitting vaccination certificates in lieu of negative swab test results. In the absence of vaccination certificates, tourists still need to submit a negative swab test result.
—NESTOR P. BURGOS JR.
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