AKLAN, Philippines – As many as 150 foreign tourists may still be in Boracay Island and are unable to return home after the government enforced travel restrictions in the light of global coronavirus pandemic.
Aklan governor Florencio Miraflores said the Department of Tourism (DOT) had ramped up efforts to help stranded travellers with mercy flights out of Boracay Island.
So far, mercy flights has airlifted home around 500 holidaymakers in Boracay Island in recent weeks.
Their only option was to fly from Caticlan airport in Malay town in Aklan to Clark International Airport in Pampanga, and take the emergency repatriation services offered by the government.
Miraflores said the Russian Embassy was also aiding more than 100 Russian nationals for a repatriation flight from Boracay.
“The embassy should also work alongside the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) for repatriation of Russian citizens stranded in Boracay,” the governor added.
Even as the government announced the mercy flights, the growing frustration on government-ordered lockdown was troubling those trapped tourists. These marooned travellers have no choice but to wait for the government-backed repatriation.
Desperate tourists are pleading the local DOT office in Boracay to assist them so they could be flown home early as flight cancellations and the lockdown in Luzon complicated their return journeys.
The agency is also facing calls from stranded tourists in the island affected by the sudden shutdown of airports in Aklan to handle the situation better.
In other developments, Aklan has introduced travel and border restrictions and closure of non-essential businesses to discourage the spread of the pandemic.
Along with a nine-hour curfew, the government also imposed self-isolation of residents to their homes except for essential business like heading to a hospital or buying food.
Weeks ago, airline companies cancelled routes and grounded their aircraft due to coronavirus crisis.
Meanwhile, the global death toll of the coronavirus pandemic has reached 15,189, with 5,476 of the fatalities in Italy and 3,270 in China (excluding Hong Kong and Macau).
The number of cases worldwide has risen to 341,300, with 81,093 cases in China and 59,138 cases in Italy. The virus has spread to 174 countries. – with a report from Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com