ILOILO CITY – The business sector in Boracay Island in Malay town Aklan is suffering following a drop in tourist arrivals due to the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) scare.
In a phone interview on Thursday, Malay Mayor Froliba Bautista said the tourist arrivals have gone down by 40 percent. The 172, 695 tourists in January dropped to 103,834 in the following month, Bautista said.
Tourism establishments are “badly hit” by the pandemic, said Elena Brugger, chapter president of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI)-Boracay.
“The effect economically is not good because no people, no business,” she added.
Accommodation establishments and resorts that are members of the PCCI-Boracay report only 20 to 30 percent occupancy rate, she said.
Tourism establishments have dropped their rates up to 50 percent and have offered promos and freebies to entice customers.
The PCCI is supporting the #besttimenow online marketing campaign to promote the tourist destination.
“The best time now is an initiative of one of our business establishments that we should not promote individually but we will have a unified and united marketing strategy to promote the island,” she said.
She assured the local government of Malay is “way ahead” in its preventive measures against the spread of the disease.
Brugger also noted the setback suffered by operators of Paraw sunset sailing as clients in water activities also declined.
Daniel Robido, 34, of Paraw Masboi Sailboat Cooperative, said their earning has been reduced to around PHP200 from PHP1, 000 daily when the virus threat broke out.
“We have local tourists on the island but our market usually includes Chinese and Koreans. Since there are no international flights for them, it is hard for us to look for clients,” he said.
Chinese tourists visiting the island usually arrange activities before they visit the island, including the Paraw sunset sailing.
The same sentiment was aired by Roben Fransico, 24, a paddleboat instructor, who said most of the Russians and Europeans visitors in the island seldom patronize water activities.
“We marked down the price for the paddle boat from PHP600 to PHP500 per hour but visitors now might try it only once. Sometimes, it is very hard to attract them to even try,” he said.
Risalyn Joy Tillo, 21, who manages a souvenir and dress shop, said there is a huge difference between the foreign and local tourists.
Local tourists seldom buy their necessities from stores as they already had with them their clothes and other items in visiting the island.
“Before the virus, we have many customers at 10 a.m. Unlike today that I only got one Filipino customer who bought an item at its last price. My nearby kiosk has even closed down yesterday because we suffer losses,” she said.
While the business sector continues to bear the effects of the Covid-19, the local government unit said it is doing its best to protect the island from the virus.
The provincial government of Aklan is also asking all Boracay Island visitors entering the Caticlan Jetty Port and Passenger Terminal for a temperature check and to fill up health declaration cards to guard against potential carriers of the virus. (PNA)