The suspension of travel tours to the Philippines by China following the ongoing standoff over the disputed Scarborough Shoal. in the West Philippine Sea is hurting the tourism industry in Boracay Island.
According to the Department of Tourism-Western Visayas (DOT-6) regional director Helen Catalbas, bookings in four hotels on the island-resort were cancelled. The canceled reservations were mostly group bookings for packages for two-night/three-day stay and three-night/four-day stay.
Also affected were the chartered flights between the Kalibo International Airport and Shanghai and Beijing.
Boracay Foundation Inc. (BFI) chairman Henry Chusuey said the cancellations constituted 15 to 20 percent of expected tourist arrivals on the island. The hardest hit would be hotels and resorts that relied on tourists from China constituting up to 60 percent of their bookings.
China is the third-biggest market for foreign tourists in Western Visayas following Korea and the United States.
The DoT-6 is planning to come out with promotional flyers and pamphlets in Korean language to offset the impact of the decline in tourists from China and to cater directly to the Korean market.