By Jun N. Aguirre
Hopes are high for Boracay Island tourism in 2020 because of the strong influx of tourism arrivals in 2019. According to the Malay Tourism Office, of the 2,034,599 2019 tourist arrivals (2,001,974 in 2017), 64,547 were overseas Filipino workers while 1,037,619 were foreign tourists – an unprecedented number even for Boracay.
In 2018, total tourism arrivals were at an all-time low in light of the six-month island closure to tourism, at 537, 743.
Top 10 Tourism Arrivals for 2019:
South Korea: 400,610
United States: 24,827
United Kingdom: 13,715
Saudi Arabia: 10,789
“We are optimistic with the result as we achieved our 2-million target tourists. This year I hope it will be more,” said Malay acting mayor Floribar Bautista. Bautista said that he is also optimistic with tourism arrivals this year as more Chinese tourists are expected to arrive. In November 2019, Bautista met with Consul General Tian and Consul General Wang of the Chinese Embassy for Culture & Tourism, and Peter Tay, official liaison officer of the Chinese Embassy, Manila to discuss the concerns of Chinese tourists. “Members of the South Korean embassy are also coordinating with our office for discussion,” said Bautista. Aside from both Chinese and South Koreans, Japanese tourism arrivals are also expected to increase. The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines reported that plans are underway by three airline companies to bring in Japanese tourists to Boracay including direct flights to and from the Narita International Airport in Japan and the Kalibo International Airport this year. For his part, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy Cimatu downplayed the maximum capacity of tourists entering Boracay. “The tourism capacity limit is still being implemented in Boracay. As far as the DENR is concerned, Boracay still failed to reach the capacity limit set,” Cimatu said.
A surge in the number of cruise ship arrivals to Boracay is also anticipated this year. Conde Nast Traveler which is recognized as one of the most distinguished and trusted authorities on lifestyle travel, named Boracay as “the best island in Asia” and one of the 30 best islands in the world for 2019.