Eighty per cent of the foreign tourists visiting Boracay Island in the first quarter of this year have been from China and Korea.
The figures, covering January to March, were released by the Malay Municipal Tourism Office today (Wednesday, April 3).
Due to improved ties and increased air connectivity between China and the Philippines, Chinese tourists became by far the biggest cohort of foreign visitors at 149,019 – or 48 per cent of the 309,591 total.
This is followed by the Korean contingent with 97,797 arrivals. Americans ranked third at 8,268 and Russians followed at 4,974.
For March alone, foreigners accounted for 92,835 arrivals, while local tourists accounted 74,226. Overseas Filipino workers enjoying a trip home to the motherland accounted for 5,146 arrivals.
Tourist arrivals in March, however, have dropped by three per cent on last year — from 177,081 down to 172,207.
During the entire quarter, from January to March, foreign visitors amounted to 309,451 while domestic tourists reached 184,632 and overseas Filipino workers 18,293.
The island was able to accommodate 512,516 tourists over the three months, down by seven per cent compared to 553,074 over the same period last year.
The tourism performance is attributed to the ‘visitor-cap’ introduced by the national government to tackle ‘over tourism’ and its environmental impact on the white sand island resort.
Boracay made international headlines last year when it was closed to visitors for six months after President Duterte described it as a “cesspool”. The “environmental rehabilitation” is ongoing, with hotels and other businesses continuing to be demolished for breaching development guidelines.
According to the Department of Tourism, two million tourists flocked to the tiny island in 2017, which was beyond the carrying capacity of the island.
Last year, however, the number fell by more than half to 941,868, largely on account of the island’s temporary closure.
As we have previously reported, 2017 was the year in which China became the biggest source of foreign tourists to the island.
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