P25-B Boracay action plan hailed

P25-B Boracay action plan hailed

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Tourism (DOT) is lauding the approval of the P25-billion Boracay Action Plan (BAP) as it would help sustain the island’s rehabilitation.

In a statement, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said the DOT wholeheartedly welcomes the approval of the midterm BAP to complete the island’s rehabilitation and continue its sustainable tourism development program. 

“By essentially institutionalizing the functions of the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force (BIATF) with the approval of the Action Plan, we can clearly see the government’s determination to sustain the gains of the initial six-month rehabilitation,” Puyat said.

The DOT chairs the Thematic Cluster on Sustainable Economic activities, including tourism and livelihood.  

“The President’s move assures us of Boracay Island’s sustainable tourism development with the BAP serving as the BIATF’s guide in ensuring sustainable and inclusive growth in the island with continuing opportunities for all stakeholders,”Puyat added.

Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said Duterte approved the BAP during the 39th Cabinet meeting on Monday.

In January, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) presented the P25-billion BAP, which will install safeguards from ecological degradation and sustain tourism activities in Boracay.

Tourism stakeholders also welcomed the approval of the BAP.

“Boracay is still an ongoing concern as work is still proceeding to complete the government’s plans when it was closed last year. We hope that the funds being allocated will speed up the rehabilitation as well as ensure its sustainability,” Tourism Congress of the Philippines (TCP) president Jose Clemente III told The STAR in a text message.

“That said, we are also looking forward to having the same kind of assistance for the other tourist destinations around the country that may need further funding to accomplish things similar to Boracay,” he added.

The NEDA earlier said the proposed estimated total investment requirement for the BAP is P25.27 billion for all thematic areas, 64 percent or P16.21 billion of which will be allotted for infrastructure.

The indicative number of programs, projects and activities combined under all the thematic areas is 233. The private sector will finance P15.89 billion or 62.9 percent of the total cost, the NEDA said.

The BAP will be implemented until 2022.

At present, the island is following a carrying capacity to ensure its sustainability.

A study commissioned by the DENR showed that Boracay’s carrying capacity is only 55,757 people per day, including its residents. Only 19,215 tourists are allowed to be on the island at a certain time, with 6,405 tourists allowed to enter the island per day.

In a bid to ensure the carrying capacity of the island is met, the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) earlier implemented a moratorium on the addition of new charter flights to Caticlan and Kalibo.

Tourism Undersecretary Benito Bengzon Jr. emphasized that this only applies to new applications for chartered flights.

“Ensuring that we protect the environment, all of these initiatives are in line with the objective we have kept for ourselves, both the government and the private sector,” Bengzon said.

“But the challenge here is to really achieve an economic balance between such economic activity and protection of the environment,” he added.  

Block off dates for the entry of cruise ships to Boracay were also implemented to ensure the carrying capacity of the island is met.

“The close out dates for cruise ships were set to manage the carrying capacity of island, as there is an expected surge in tourist arrivals during the Holy Week and summer time,” the DOT earlier said.

The DOT will also implement more close out dates within the year, particularly on Oct. 26 to November in observance of All Saints and All Souls Day, and on Nov. 23 to Jan. 25 for the SEA Games, Christmas and the New Year.