MANILA – The Department of Tourism (DOT) said on Saturday it has assisted 1,044 foreign tourists stranded in the Caraga region after the travel restrictions and flight cancellations due to the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).
In a statement, the DOT said its Caraga regional office response team closely coordinated with the local government units to locate through phone, e-mail, and social media the distressed tourists and facilitate their evacuation under ECQ conditions.
Caraga localities include Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Dinagat Islands, Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur, Surigao City, Butuan City, and Siargao Island.
Of this number, at least 416 stranded tourists signed up and availed of the five sweeper flights from Sayac Airport in Siargao Island to the Clark International Airport for their flight to their home countries or point-to-point (P2P) bus trips to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) for their onward flights abroad.
Of this figure, 244 tourists were brought to the two airports on March 22 and 172 tourists on March 23.
Meanwhile, the remaining 628 stranded tourists were assisted via DOT’s virtual help desk and provision of land transports.
Earlier, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said foreign governments are now “to take full responsibility in mounting the special flights from the provinces and back to their countries starting Friday” as the last of the sweeper flights mounted and funded by the Philippine government ended on Thursday.
Locsin also urged the members of the diplomatic community to advise their nationals to return home while there are still available flights, otherwise, they will have to stay in the Philippines until the end of the ECQ period.
He said at least 11,863 foreign tourists have been assisted by the DOT as of Thursday. (ia/PNA)