Chinese tourists top foreign visitors on Boracay in 2017
ILOILO CITY—-In what could be a sign of further warming up of relations between China and the Philippines, Chinese tourists for the first time surpassed Koreans as the top foreign visitors on Boracay Island.
Chinese tourists on the island reached 375,284 last year followed by Korea with 356,644 and Taiwan with 40,802, according to data from the Malay municipal tourism office.
Koreans traditionally topped foreign visitors on the island surpassing Chinese tourists with a wide margin.
Among the other top foreign tourists on Boracay last year were those from the United States (22,648), Malaysia (20,585), United Kingdom (17,416), Saudi Arabia (15,944), Australia (15,365), Russia (14,074) and Singapore (9,897).
Tourist arrivals on the island hit a new record last year reaching 2,001,974, 16 percent higher than the 1,725,483 tourists in 2016.
More than half or 1,052,975 were foreigners while 906,939 were domestic tourists. Overseas-based Filipinos reached 42,060.
Chinese and Korean tourists comprised 69 percent of all foreign tourists.
Tourist arrivals from China and Korea have been boosted by more tour groups, trips of cruise ships and direct flights to airports in Barangay Caticlan in Malay and the capital town of Kalibo, said Tourism Western Visayas director Helen Catalbas.
Catalbas said there are direct flights between the Kalibo International Airport and eight airports in China.
Amid the congestion at the Cagban port in Barangay Manoc-Manoc and the main road in Boracay, Aklan Gov. Florencio Miraflores said the provincial government is proposing to build another port in Barangay Yapak at the northern end of the 1,032-hectare island.
The Cagban port is the main port of tourists and residents of the island. The Tambisaan port also in Manoc-Manoc serves as an alternative port when water currents make it difficult for boats to dock at the Cagban port.
Miraflores said a port in Yapak would cater mainly to tourists and residents going to the northern end of the island without having to pass through Cagban and the main road.
He said the plan was still being studied by the Malay municipal government.
The continued influx of tourists and the unabated construction of resorts, hotels and residential buildings have prompted growing calls to regulate tourism and development activities on the island.
The calls have grown stronger as flooding, traffic congestion and other problems on the island have worsened.
Last week, Secretary Wanda Tulfo-Teo of the Department of Tourism and Roy Cimatu of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources visited the island and met with officials and business leaders to discuss how to address Boracay’s problems.
The officials laid out their plans including a proposal for President Duterte to issue an executive order creating a multi-agency task force to monitor and implement the programs and projects for the island.
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