Manila, Philippines – At least 10,300 individuals, mostly foreign travelers affected by the enhanced community quarantine, have been assisted as of Tuesday, March 24, 2020 by the Department of Tourism (DOT), Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat disclosed.
A virtual COVID-19 command center coordinated the skeletal workforce of the DOT regional offices throughout the country.
From this number, 7,915 are tourists assisted through sweeper flights that transported stranded tourists from various destinations to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) and Clark International Airport, in joint efforts with Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific, Air Asia and Air Swift. Chartered flights were also made available to move stranded tourists.
“The Department of Tourism has been doing everything within its resources to ease the congestion in the different regions by facilitating the movement of foreign tourists stranded in the different islands of the country,” stressed Secretary Puyat.
Five sweeper flights carried stranded tourists out of Siargao to Clark Airport last Saturday and Sunday.
At least four sweeper flights will fly out of Boracay Island over the weekend, with two more scheduled on Thursday March 26.
Meanwhile, additional sweeper flights will fly out of Iloilo, Tacloban, and Cagayan de Oro tomorrow, March 25.
Three sweeper flights are set to leave from Davao and Puerto Princesa on March 26.
Meanwhile, DOT regional offices are facilitating the transport of travelers by land in Luzon and by sea with inter-island vessels, like the Philippine Coast Guard boats used to sail tourists from the islands of Bohol, Siguijor, and Negros to Cebu.
Also arranged were shuttle services and hotel accommodations provided to some stranded tourists. Free food and hygienic items, called MalasaKits, were distributed at the NAIA terminals.