Tourists still flocking to Boracay despite 'cesspool' tag

Nony Basco, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 18 2018 05:59 PM

BORACAY -- There was a slight increase in the tourist arrivals in Boracay even if President Rodrigo Duterte slammed the island as a "cesspool" last week.

Data from the Caticlan Jetty Port show a 17.7-percent increase in the arrival of tourists, both foreign and domestic, including overseas Filipino workers, for the period February 1-15, 2018. 

A total of 99,729 tourists went to Boracay during that period, higher than the 84,707 tourists who visited the island in the same period last year. 

The tourism office has recorded a total of 114,467 tourist arrivals in Boracay from February 1 to 17, 2018, compared to 104,242 tourists who visited the island in the same period last year.

Port administrator Nevin Maquirang, however, noted that the influx of tourists is probably due the long weekend since this year's Chinese New Year holiday fell on a Friday.

"Unang-una naka-booking na 'yan. Pangalawa, it's Chinese New Year," he said.

Data from some hotels and resorts also show that most of the bookings for February were made long before the comment of the President.

On Monday, a cruise ship with 2,500 tourists will be docking in Boracay, while two other luxury ships with 4,000 tourists each are also scheduled to visit the island on Wednesday and Thursday. 

According to Maquirang, the only way to know if the President's comment will have a negative effect on tourism in the island is to check the tourist arrivals in March.

"Posibleng magkaroon ng decrease but not much. Maybe 15 percent lang. It's a good thing naman na mismo ang ating Presidente ang nagsabi. Dapat kasi ang lahat ng mga stakeholders gumising na at tumulong sa paglinis ng Boracay," he added.

Just this week, the Department of Tourism (DOT) confirmed cancellations of bookings in Boracay, as the agency encouraged tourists to visit Palawan instead.

But tourists who have been staying here this weekend say they still prefer Boracay as their summer destination. They even promised to come back soon and bring along with their families and friends.

Turkish couple Selcuk and Esin Sem are first-time visitors to Boracay, having heard about the island from a friend who had just visited the island last month.

"We just really want to see the beautiful island, the crystal-clear water and white sand," Esin said.

The Boracay Foundation Inc. and the local government of Malay are still hoping tourists arrivals will continue to increase this summer despite the issue of waster disposal.