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406 French tourists able to leave Manila for Paris

By Roy Mabasa

The Government of France has successfully extricated and brought home 406 French tourists who were stranded in different parts of the Philippines due to the lockdown and imposition of travel restrictions amid the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the country.

French Embassy in Manila / MANILA BULLETIN

French Embassy in Manila / MANILA BULLETIN

In a statement, the French Embassy in Manila thanked the various Philippine government agencies and local government units who assisted them in locating and transporting the French nationals from various tourist destinations in the Philippines to Mactan, Cebu then to Manila en route to Paris on March 24 and 25.

“The Embassy of France addresses its warmest gratitude to the Filipino authorities, most notably the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Department of Tourism, the Department of Transportation, and the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, as well as the administrators of the Cebu-Mactan International Airport and the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, for the active and constant support that they extended in the organization of this flight and in the success of this operation,” the French Embassy said.

Confusion marred the tourism sector in the country following the initial pronouncement of the Philippine government asking all foreign nationals – except for diplomats and the spouses and children of Filipino nationals – to leave the country within 72 hours amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

As part of the lockdown, all domestic flights throughout the Philippines were suspended, leaving hundreds of foreign tourists stranded in different locations in the country.

The French Embassy painstakingly conducted the search for their nationals in known tourist places such as Palawan, Bohol, Siargao, and Cebu in coordination with the LGUs and other national agencies to beat the 72-hour window which was later recalled by the government.

Through a special flight, the French government commissioned Qatar Airways that eventually flew their nationals to Paris.

The Embassy thanked Qatar Airways for providing the special flight with great efficiency and at short notice at a time when air traffic had been severely affected by the impact of the global epidemic.

Efforts are still underway to ensure those remaining tourists from France and from other European countries may be able to return to their respective countries at the soonest possible time, the Embassy added.

Source: Manila Bulletin

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