Pres. Duterte eyes Boracay trip to promote domestic tourism

The travel ban imposed by the national government due to the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak slashed foreign tourist arrivals in Boracay Island, prompting President Rodrigo Duterte to organize visits to the famed island resort and other tourist destinations. (Emme Rose Santiagudo)

By Emme Rose Santiagudo

President Rodrigo Duterte will personally visit Boracay Island to lead the tourism campaign that seeks to stem the effects of the 2019 novel coronavirus (nCoV) outbreak on the island resort.

Boracay is reeling from the sudden drop in foreign tourist arrivals following the ban on persons from areas with positive nCoV cases.

Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said the President wanted to visit local destinations in the country to promote safe travel amid threats of the 2019 n-CoV.

“We just had a meeting with President Duterte together with Cebu Pacific, AirAsia, Philippine Airlines, Philippine Hotel Owners Association and Jojo Clemente of the Tourism Congress of the Philippines and he said that he wants to start traveling around the country to show that it’s safe,” she said in a report by the Philippine News Agency (PNA).

Puyat said the tourism campaign will kick off next week in Boracay, Cebu, and Bohol.

In a phone interview Tuesday, Malay Mayor Floribar Bautista said he welcomes the visit of the President in the hope of shoring up the tourism industry on the island.

“I haven’t received any official confirmation yet but we are very open to that so that the President himself can promote safe travels here in Boracay,” he said

According to Bautista, the implementation of travel bans and travel restrictions on the island has affected the tourism industry.

“It has really a huge impact especially that it is not only the Chinese market that is affected but also even other nationalities,” he lamented.

Bautista estimated the drop in tourist arrivals in Boracay by 30 to 40 percent.

Bautista said he is also hopeful that local tourists can compensate for the losses in the foreign market.

“Even in other countries, local tourism plays a vital role in the economy. We hope that locals can help save Boracay’s tourism industry,” he said.

This was also the call of the DOT-6 regional office as it plans to meet with hotel stakeholders to offer discounted room rates to local tourists.

Meanwhile, Bautista said their strict policy of banning all persons with travel history to China and its administrative regions has helped keep the island free from the novel coronavirus.

“We started last Friday and we are happy with the results so far,” the mayor.

Executive Order No. 04 series of 2020 issued by the mayor on Friday temporarily suspended the entry of all persons with travel history to China, Hong Kong, and Macau for the past 14 days.”

The Border Patrols composed of the local police station, the PNP mobile force company, the Philippine Army, Municipal Auxiliary Police, Malay Municipal Health Office and Municipal Tourism Office conducted checkpoints all around Malay to implement the order.

As of Saturday, authorities have already intercepted 13 foreign nationals wanting to go to Boracay. (With a report from Philippine News Agency/PNA)