PHOTO CAPTION: With the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, Kalibo International Airport will now complement Caticlan airport in welcoming Boracay-bound visitors./iNews
KALIBO, Aklan–To reinvigorate the sluggish tourism industry in Aklan province, the Kalibo International Airport has reopened to domestic Boracay tourists after the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force gave the Aklan provincial government the discretion to open it.
“Nakikita natin na halos puno ng turista ang Caticlan airport. Dahil bukas na ang Kalibo airport sa mga turista, malaki ang maitutulong nito sa ekonomiya ng Aklan, lalo na sa transport at local business [We see that the Caticlan airport is filling up with tourists again. The reopening of Kalibo airport to tourists will greatly help Aklan’s economy, particularly in the transport and local business sectors],” said Aklan governor Florencio Miraflores.
At this point, he added, the province’s pandemic recovery is mainly driven by domestic tourism, supplanting in the interim the major pre-pandemic international market: from December 1 to 5, over 15,000 visitors arrived spread across 21 daily flights to Caticlan Airport.
In fact, Boracay tourist arrivals had started picking up as early as October this year with a daily average of 3,000 visitors.
And as the holiday season is upon us, Miraflores anticipates the number of tourists to continue to rise.
“May mga hotels at resorts na full occupancy from this December up to January [There are hotels and resorts that have reported full occupancy from December to January],” he added.
However, while domestic tourism has started to pick up, foreign tourists from neighboring countries have to wait a little longer to step foot once more in Boracay as travel restrictions in countries with direct flights to Kalibo, Aklan had been reimposed in an effort to contain the spread of the COVID-19 Omicron variant.
Miraflores revealed they already had initial talks with South Korean travel agencies on the possible resumption of international flights in the first quarter of 2022, but with the emergence of the Omicron variant, direct chartered flights to Kalibo airport are once again on hold.
“On hold ang international flights to Kalibo dahil may Omicron variant sa ibang bansa at ang South Korea nasa red list [The international flights to Kalibo are on hold due to the Omicron variant in other countries, with South Korea itself on the red list],” the governor explained. (Boy Ryan Zabal/iNews-Aklan/Boracay Bureau)