Boracay tourist arrivals decline by 40% due to coronavirus

Boy Ryan B. Zabal
The China market is the hardest hit, from 59,768 arrivals in February 2019 to 490 tourists this year

CORONAVIRUS MONITORING. Background photo by Louie Lapat/Rappler

AKLAN, Philippines – Tourist arrivals on the island of Boracay declined significantly in February, amid travel restrictions imposed to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. From the 172,695 visitors in January, the number dwindled by 40% to 103,834. 

The Malay Municipal Tourism Office said that the influx of foreign travelers, who accounted for 51% of total arrivals before the virus outbreak began in mainland China, dropped from a daily average of 4,100 arrivals to just 1,400. 

The China market, one of the largest inbound markets for the island, was the hardest hit, from 59,768 arrivals in February 2019 to 490 tourists this year. Many airline companies suspended flights from mainland China and its special administrative regions to Kalibo International Airport since January 31.

The dramatic drop in Chinese visitors also resulted in the closure of some 20 establishments in on the island and in the airport. The declining tourist numbers also displaced 378 of the island’s Filipino workers. (READ: Coronavirus impact on tourism may be worse than Boracay closure)

Domestic tourists, however, increased by 6% to 117,359 in the first 2 months of 2020. 

Prompted by the outbreak, Malay Chief Tourism Operations Officer Felix Delos Santos said they are strengthening the marketing for local tourists by encouraging hotels, resorts, and establishments on the island to craft affordable packages and rates. 

In Caticlan port, tourists and passengers visiting Boracay or Malay, Aklan will have their temperature checked to help contain the spread of the virus, according to Provincial Health Office-Aklan. –