Flights from Korea bring more tourists to Boracay

PET-FRIENDLY On occasion, pets join their owners along Boracay’s white sand beach. Since travel restrictions have been eased last year, the resort island in Malay, Aklan, has been seeing a steady increase in visitors, most of them local tourists. —JACK JARILLA

ILOILO CITY—Tourist arrivals in Boracay continued to increase this month especially with the resumption of international direct flights catering to leisure travelers bound for the resort island in Malay, Aklan.

Records from the Malay municipal tourism office showed that 97,766 tourists arrived on the island from June 1 to June 15, almost half of the 201,368 arrivals in May.Domestic tourists still accounted for 95.39 percent of visitors for the first half of the month. Foreign tourists reached 2,439 while overseas Filipinos accounted for 2,060.

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Direct chartered flights between Incheon, South Korea, and Kalibo International Airport resumed on June 17 and June 22. South Korea is among Boracay’s top tourism markets.

In anticipation of the influx of visitors now that travel and health restrictions have eased, former Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu has called for an immediate study on the island’s carrying capacity to help local governments manage tourist arrivals.

In his speech during the culminating activity of the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force (BIATF) on June 16, Cimatu, former BIATF chair, said the carrying capacity, pegged at 19,215 tourists at any given time, was set before the rehabilitation of the island in 2018. The island was closed to tourists for six months from April 26 to Oct. 25 in 2018 to undergo major rehabilitation.