Palawan tourism predicted to dip when Bora reopens

The PAL flight San Vicente will be at 7:00 a.m.-8:40 a.m. from Clark and 9:00-10:40 a.m. from San Vicente based on initial PAL schedule. (File photo)

Flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) said on Monday it is expecting a decline in tourist arrivals in Palawan in the wake of  Boracay’s scheduled reopening on October 26.

PAL Puerto Princesa Office Branch manager Joel Paderes told Palawan News that just this end of September, they have already noted a “significant decrease” in the number of passengers traveling from South Korea.

“As of now, ‘yong international flights natin, kaya lang naman nagkaroon ‘yong flights natin from Korea is because of closure noong Boracay, so pagbalik ng Boracay I am sure most of the tourists will go back to Boracay. Always kasi ang priority is Boracay because of the beach, dito sa Puerto kasi wala tayong magandang beach, ‘yan ang hinahanap… they go to El Nido, they go to Coron because of the beaches,” said Paderes.

Direct international flights from South Korea started on June 23, straight from Seoul’s Incheon International Airport, and on July 26 from Gimhae’s Busan International Airport.

Boracay’s six-month closure order started on April 26 following President Rodrigo Duterte’s learning of the drainage pipe dumping dirty water on Bulabog beach.

The closure aims to address the rehabilitation and redevelopment of the world-famous tourist destination.

Paderes said they have noted a substantial downward movement in the number of passengers from South Korea’s Busan and Incheon flights.

“Noong first few months, almost full siya, ngayon parang nababawasan na, lately lang, itong end of September, ito na ring October,” said Paderes.

Incheon’s daily flights started by bringing in 190 passengers, but recently, Paderes said it is only flying in over a hundred.

Busan’s four-times-a-week flights which usually bring 120 passengers now only fly in “less than a hundred,” he said.

The flight from Taipei, Taiwan, which has been steadily bringing in travelers for three years now, remain stable.

“The same pa rin ang Taipei natin, 180 [passengers] to full (190),” said Paderes.

Paderes said they have not received any advice yet from the top management on whether their international flights from South Korea will be retained or stopped upon Boracay’s reopening.

He added the extension of their direct international flights from South Korea relies on the volume of travelers booking through Incheon and Busan airports.

However, Paderes explained all these international flights, even with a significant decline in the number of incoming passengers, will still be sustained as long as each garner “good aircraft load” reaching up to 80 percent of passengers which is equivalent to 120 individuals.

He elaborated incoming passengers from South Korea are important, considering these direct international flights’ passengers will be the same individuals to load the plane from the province back to their country.

“It will always originate galing doon sa Korea, kasi wala tayong market dito eh,” said Paderes.

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