Hotels, restaurants and other businesses in the Boracay are appealing to local tourists to book vacation trips to the picturesque island famous worldwide for its white beaches.
According to a social media post by Nowie Potenciano, representing the Sunny Side Café, SpiceBird, Supermagic and Coco Mama restaurants, hard times are back again in Boracay due to fears generated by the novel coronavirus outbreak.
Potenciano said that less than two years after the island was shut down for rehabilitation, Covid-19 has presented “another tough challenge to all the businesses and workers on the island.”
“Not only are there virtually no Koreans and Chinese, but even visitors from other countries to Boracay have dramatically dropped because they’re afraid of the virus,” he wrote.
The Koreans and Chinese made up almost 60 percent of tourists on the island before the coronavirus made travelers avoid Hong Kong, Seoul and Tokyo which are the hubs to getting to Manila, he explained.
“The effect has been devastating to everyone on the island. We’ve been hearing stories of 4% and 15% occupancy in some hotels,” he said.
“Workers (are) being asked to go on leave for 15 days, only to come back to half-day duties or being given a schedule for only a week. The desperation is palpable down to the vendors and boatmen who are virtually begging for business among the handful of tourists left.”
He said that they’ve already closed down one restaurant because they can’t support the cost of keeping it open, adding that “another shop has seen its sales drop by almost 80 percent.”
“Thankfully, we’ve been able to re-assign staff to the remaining restaurants and everyone is still employed. But if we have to close one more shop, it’s going to be…difficult,” he added.
Despite the bleak scenario, Potenciano said that for local tourists there is no better time to come to Boracay than now.
“The beach is absolutely beautiful and is the most empty I’ve ever seen it in almost 20 years of coming to the island. There are also ridiculously great deals to be had for both airline fares and hotels,” he continued.
“Some nice resorts are now going for as low as P3,000 a night. It’s easy to get seats at restaurants and moving about is a breeze. And of course, with us, you’ll be sure you’re eating well.”
For tourists, whether foreign or local, the good news, according to Potenciano, is that there have been zero confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Boracay and Malay, Aklan.
“Absolutely none,” he said. “So again, please support local and choose to holiday in the Philippines. Everyone in this industry we call hospitality could use the boost. We promise to make it worth your while.”
“If you’re considering a vacation or planning to take a holiday, please support local and choose somewhere in the Philippines. Or even better, please come over to Boracay,” Potenciano said.