Boracay tourist arrivals dip amid soaring heat index

While it was fewer compared to 2023, more than 13,000 tourists landed on Boracay Island on March 28, surpassing the island’s daily maximum tourist arrival limit of 8,500. (Malay PNP photo)

By Jennifer P. Rendon, Rjay Zuriaga Castor, and Glazyl Y. Masculino

More than 13,000 tourists landed on Boracay Island this Holy Thursday, March 28, surpassing the island’s daily maximum tourist arrival limit of 8,500, but still falling short of last year’s 16,000 count.

Mayor Floribar Bautista of Malay, Aklan noted that arrivals on Good Friday topped expectations, reaching over 7,000 compared to just around 5,000 the previous year.

Many who flocked to the island on Friday were locals from nearby provinces.

“Parking areas are full. Some had to park their vehicles in places that were not usually used as parking spaces,” Bautista observed.

Yet, he assured that with the numbers tallied, the island has not breached its maximum capacity of more than 25,000.

“We had around more than 24,000 visitors. So it’s still within the allowable threshold,” he clarified.

By Tuesday, March 26, the number of visitors had already exceeded 6,000, a promising start albeit not surpassing last year’s figures.

Bautista suggests multiple reasons for the shift in tourist behavior, with the primary factor being the high heat index recorded on Panay Island.

“Some might have preferred to do a shorter trip and spent it in nearby tourist destinations,” Bautista explained, indicating that the intense heat may have deterred some, particularly those with elderly companions or health issues.

The PAGASA reported extreme heat index values reaching up to 48°C in Roxas City, Capiz, and similarly high temperatures in other parts of Western Visayas.

Jan Hermie Baron, a PAGASA-6 weather observer, highlighted the heat index monitoring across the region and advised those considering travel to defer their plans if not essential.

Baron, said five stations in Western Visayas monitor the heat index in the region – Roxas City, Capiz; Mambusao, Capiz; Iloilo City, Iloilo; Dumangas, Iloilo; and La Carlota, Negros Occidental.

On March 30, heat index in Kalibo, Aklan was projected to reach 41°C.

“We also advocated for those who would travel to postpone if not needed. Of course, it’s a different thing if it’s part of your work or it’s an emergency,” he said.

Coast Guard-Iloilo monitors over 58K passengers

The Coast Guard Station (CGS) Iloilo reported a total of 58,615 outbound and inbound passengers in all ports of the province and city during the observance of the Holy Week or Semana Santa from March 28 to 30.

CGS-Iloilo monitored a significant influx of passengers on March 28 with 11,294 outbound and 10,599 inbound passengers. Inspections were also conducted on 199 vessels and 80 motorbancas to enforce safety protocols effectively.

On Good Friday, March 29, the maritime agency documented 8,770 outbound and 6,341 inbound passengers, with inspections carried out on 168 vessels and 155 motorbancas.

Meanwhile, CGI-Iloilo recorded 10,953 outbound and 10,615 inbound passengers during the Black Saturday on March 30. It also conducted thorough inspections on 65 vessels and 189 motorbancas.

CGS-Iloilo, its sub-stations, and other operating units were placed on heightened alert status from March 24 to 31, to ensure the safety and security of passengers traveling during Semana Santa.

The CGS-Western Visayas deployed approximately 460 personnel to monitor and supervise traveler movement across various ports and wharves in the region. Specifically, 200 personnel were strategically deployed in Iloilo ports.

Personnel of the Regional Maritime Unit 6 also secured pilgrims of “Ang Pagtaltal Sa Bala-an Bukid” in Jordan, Guimaras, with the deployment of at least 20 personnel to secure the Iloilo Strait.

It can be noted that the Regional Maritime Industry Authority has approved extended operating hours for ferry services between Jordan, Guimaras, and Iloilo City on March 29 to cater to an influx of tourists and guests to observe the re-enactment of the Passion of Christ.

Trips of the Iloilo-Bacolod Roll-on/roll-off (RORO or ro-ro) were also continuous throughout the observation of Semana Santa.

Personnel of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) northern Negros Occidental assist some passengers in Cadiz City on Black Saturday. (Photo courtesy of PCG-northern Negros Occidental)

91K travelers in Negros seaports

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) northern Negros Occidental has recorded a total of 91,954 passengers travelling in and out of various seaports in the province from March 22 to March 31.

Of the figure, there were 46,493 outbound passengers, while there were 45,461 inbound passengers.

Commander Paterno Belarmino Jr., head of PCG northern Negros Occidental, said that there have been no significant incidents reported during the Holy Week.

Belarmino believed that travelers are now aware of the security protocols in seaports, thus they have not intercepted any contraband.

Belarmino said the situation in ports is also peaceful and orderly, based on their monitoring and assessment.

He said the PCG will remain on heightened alert until April 2. A total of 79 PCG personnel and 69 PCG auxiliaries and volunteers have been deployed.

The PCG has inspected a total of 447 vessels and 195 motorbancas.

Belarmino said that Coast Guard personnel have been maximized in beach resorts for the influx of beach-goers especially during Easter Sunday.

Meanwhile, Belarmino said they have reported one drowning incident in Lakawon island in Cadiz City on March 28.

Belarmino said the victim was conducting spear fishing, when he believed to have suffered an asthma attack, based on the family’s statement.

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