While some South-east Asian beaches are potentially benefitting as alternative destinations with Boracay’s closure, Philippine destinations do not seem to be among the winners as they are either operating at capacity this summer high season or are simply not appealing to travellers.
“I talked to travel agents and they said tourists go to Vietnam instead – particularly Phu Quoc island and Danang,” said Christine Urbanozo-Ibarreta, president of the Hotel Sales and Marketing Association (HSMA).
Boris Travel general manager Irene Maliwanag confirmed that there were many foregone opportunities for the Philippines since Boracay was closed for rehabilitation a month ago, especially for new bookings that were easy to cancel in favour of other countries.
While longhaul tourists from the US, Canada and Europe who have already booked Boracay months ahead and therefore have no choice but to stick to the Philippines, only a few have emerged as preferred destinations in lieu of Boracay.
Tourists’ preferred destinations like El Nido in Palawan and Siargao are already fully booked, but these clients are not swayed towards Bohol and Malapascua in Cebu, said Maliwanag.
A number of foreign tourists, meanwhile, have skipped visiting any local destinations entirely, pointed out Rajah Tours president Jojo Clemente.
As well, the increase in tourists, she noted, has led to a price hike in El Nido for products including downmarket hotels and tricycles, which doubled from 50 pesos (US$1) to 100 pesos, according to Maliwanag.
Hotels in Puerto Princesa in Palawan have not seen increase their rates as they have a smaller market share than El Nido but the Underground River – which raised its entrance fee from 1,800 pesos to 2,000 pesos three months before Boracay closed – has again increased the fee to 2,200 pesos after Boracay’s closure, excluding the environmental fee.