'Worse than Boracay closure': Flights between Kalibo, China still suspended amid 2019-nCoV scare

Joyce Clavecillas, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 06 2020 07:44 PM

KALIBO, Aklan - Flights coming from different parts of China to Kalibo International Airport in Aklan are still suspended, airport authorities maintained Thursday.

Engr. Eusebio Monserate Jr., OIC-Airport Manager of Kalibo International Airport, said flights between China and Kalibo have been suspended since Sunday, after President Rodrigo Duterte ordered a travel ban on China.

"Since the order na na-receive natin nung Sunday based din sa instruction ng ating Presidente, there is no more flight from China since Sunday wala na tayong direct from China," Monserate said.

The verification with airport authorities was made after information on the airport arrival boards showed that there are still flights from China to Kalibo, Aklan.

Monserate explained that there could be an error on the information posted.

"You could check that, it is just an application in our cellphone so maybe puwede ninyo verify as to the date kasi baka mali 'yung date na nakalagay. Or maybe, hindi natin maa-assume no but then 'yung totoo lang wala nang bumabiyahe na taga-China dito sa atin sa Kalibo International Airport," Monserate explained.

As of now, the remaining flights in Kalibo International Airport are those coming from South Korea and vice-versa and domestic flights.

Meanwhile, Peter Tay, the liaison officer of the Chinese Embassy in Manila confirmed to ABS-CBN News through a phone interview that there are more than 400 Chinese nationals in Boracay island.

This data was based on the information he got from the Tourism office of Malay, Aklan Thursday.

Included in the 429 are those who arrived in the island last February 5.

He said that these Chinese nationals came from Manila since there are no more direct flights from China to any part of the country.

"These Chinese are coming in via Manila. This is the big question right now, whether they are coming in from Manila, they were already staying in Manila for a couple of days before proceeding to Boracay and another, these tourists maybe residents of the Philippines. They are Chinese nationals, but they do have resident visas because they work here in the Philippines, they work in Manila or Cebu and they are actually having a holiday in Boracay. So that could be another possibility," Tay explained.

Tay, who has been living in Boracay island for a long time, said he is favor of the temporary travel ban from China due to the threat of the new coronavirus.

"I will totally agree with the government to a total ban of Chinese tourists coming from China at the present moment, the temporary ban. However, we still consider the Chinese nationals who have been living in the Philippines. Those who are working here and this could actually help the economy of the island and the country," Tay said.

Many establishments in the island are also feeling the impact of the travel ban to tourism. Tay even compared it to the tourism woes they experienced when Boracay was shut down for rehabilitation in 2018.

"This is worse than the Boracay closure. I say that, why? Because the Boracay closure we could look forward to October 26, right? Now, nothing to look forward, we don't know next week, next month or next year or whatever we don't know," Tay said.

He added that operators "are losing money everyday because there is no customer at all, no Chinese at all so they are losing money."

Some have chosen to stop operations and Filipino staff are the most affected, Tay claimed.

"Fifty percent of tourism receipts go from the Chinese because they are really big spenders," he said, adding Chinese tourists hold the top spot in terms of tourism arrivals in Boracay.