More local tourists visit Boracay

Domestic tourists demonstrate revenge travel as they return in full force to Boracay after more than two years of travel restrictions. 

Number of local visitors to Boracay last May reached 193,298, around 96% of the total arrivals of 201,368 for the month, according to records from the municipal tourism office. 

This was the highest recorded number of visitors in a month, eclipsing the 149,292 arrivals in April 2017, a year before the island was closed to tourists for six months from April to October 2018 to undergo rehabilitation. 

It was also more than the 135,543 domestic tourists in May 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic struck in March the following year. 

The total tourist arrivals last month were also the highest during the pandemic, higher than the previous 186,751 in April. 

The record-high number of domestic tourists made up for the minimal foreign tourists who visited the island despite the opening of the country to fully vaccinated tourists starting Feb. 10. Foreign tourists in May reached only 4,268, lower than the 4,737 recorded in April. 

Before the pandemic, foreign tourists comprised at least half of the  total visitors in Boracay at any given time. 

According to business owners, few foreigners choose to visit Boracay due to travel restrictions, and limited and expensive flights to the Philippines. 

Records show South Koreans count as the biggest international visitors to Boracay. 

The entry of more foreign visitors on the island will be critical to the recovery of the island’s economy as they generally stayed longer and spent more, according to business owners. 

The island’s tourism-dependent economy is still recovering from the 2018 closure and the two years of the pandemic that led many businesses to suspend operations or shut down. 

Business operators earlier appealed to the national government to review the mandated carrying capacity of the island and allow more tourists. They said the limit was set before the start of major rehabilitation activities on the island. 

Interior Undersecretary Epimaco Densing III earlier said the carrying capacity of the 1,032-hectare island – set at 19,215 tourists at any given time – would be maintained but would be reviewed in 2023 based on a new study. 

The carrying capacity is pegged as the maximum number of tourists that the island’s environment can support in relation to its ecosystem, infrastructure, and population, among others.

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