KALIBO, Aklan–Looks as though there’s still no end in sight for Boracay’s stakeholders’ woes.
This, after the imposition of new restrictions on travelers from the National Capital Region (NCR) due to the recent rapid and alarming uptick of COVID-19 cases in the country, which is seen to further slow down the recovery of travel and tourism-related businesses on the island.
The country’s tourism industry is considered by many to be the hardest-hit in this pandemic.
On March 22, 2021, the National Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases announced the restrictions aimed at preventing the surge of more-contagious variants of COVID-19.
Kalibo airport manager Engr. Eusebio Monserate, Jr. said only essential travel is allowed for domestic flights of Philippine Airlines, Air Asia, and Cebu Pacific into and from Kalibo airport.
Non-essential travelers are advised to coordinate with airline companies to convert their tickets to a travel voucher or rebooking for future travel or refund.
“Definitely apektado ang number of passengers. Makikita natin na bababa ang numero ng pasahero papunta sa Kalibo dahil sa bagong restrictions [Definitely the number of passengers will be affected. We will see a reduction in the volume of passengers going to Kalibo due to the new restrictions],” he said.
Prior to the new round of travel rules, tourist traffic in Boracay was already showing improvements—despite being still below 2019 levels—logging 800 to 1,000 daily arrivals.
In an advisory, the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) also reminded all air carriers to provide immediate notification of flight status to passengers whose flights are canceled or postponed. The travel restrictions are in effect from March 22, 2021, until April 4, 2021.
“All air carriers should ensure the departing, arriving, or transiting passengers from the highly-urbanized cities of NCR, Rizal, Laguna, Cavite, and Bulacan are traveling for non-leisure purposes,” said CAB executive director Carmelo Arcilla.
NCR, identified as the current hotspot, has been recording consistently high numbers of new cases, with more than 5,000 cases daily of late, the worst figures since the pandemic began last year.
Monserate said they are also taking every possible precaution to ensure passengers are safe from the coronavirus. All domestic air travelers are required to wear a face mask at all times and to undergo temperature checks at airport entrances.
The enhanced cleaning protocols and physical distancing at Kalibo airport will also continue to prevent the spread of COVID-19. (Boy Ryan Zabal/iNEWS-Aklan/Boracay Bureau)