Boracay bounces back, focus on sustainable tourism on
BORACAY ISLAND, AKLAN—A year after the start of the six-month shutdown of Boracay Island for rehabilitation, an increasing number of local and foreign tourists are again flocking to the world-renowned island.
But Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said sustainable tourism will still be the priority after the reopening of the island to tourists after a six-month closure to undergo rehabilitation.
She said many lesser known destinations have benefited from the diversion of tourists from Boracay during the closure which was implemented from April 26 to October 25, 2018.
She cited the boost in popularity of Siargao and Siquijor islands.
“The Philippines is frequently a center of attention when I attend international tourism conferences. They always ask how did you do it (rehabilitate Boracay),” Puyat said in a press conference here on Friday.
“They are impressed because all we did was enforce national laws and local ordinances,” she said citing the enforcement of the ban on drinking alcoholic beverages along the beach and other public areas and enforcement of beach easement rules.
“You can see the difference now. Everybody wants to go to Boracay and all are impressed,” she said.
She said many tourists have been reporting about environmental violations on social media.
“People are more conscious about sustainable tourism. They understand that if you follow the law, tourism will be better,” Puyat said.
She said tourist arrivals in Boracay including during the Holy Week are within the carrying capacity set by the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force.
The current carrying capacity of the island is 19,215 tourists at any given time.
Daily tourist arrivals should be at an average of 6,405 tourists.
She said this will be followed during the week-long“#LOVEBoracay” activities to mark the anniversary of the closure.
The ban on drinking and smoking in the beach and other public places, regulation on noise as well as the ban on big beach parties will be strictly enforced, she said.
“Cry for help”
A group of residents and workers displaced by the closure the island has lamented that a year after the start of the closure, many of them are still pleading for assistance from the national government.
“It’s been one year and too long for the government to deny the plea for alternative livelihood, food and relief assistance, onsite relocation and rehabilitation sites for the dislocated workers and demolished residents in the island”, Olive Abañera, coordinator of We Are Boracay said in a statement.
We Are Boracay is composed mostly of vendors, tricycle drivers, masseuses, tour guides and other workers in the informal sector.
The Bagong Alyansang Makabayan in Aklan has insisted that while rehabilitation of the island is necessary, the closure of the island for six-months was forced on residents resulting to the displacement of around 30,000 workers and those dependent on tourists for their livelihood.
“Love Boracay seeks to cover the suffering of tens of thousands and workers and residents who were terrorized to swallow the unnecessary closure. It also glosses over the lack of a comprehensive plan to rehabilitate the island and address the socio-economic needs and problems of residents,” said Kim-Sin Tugna, officer-in-charge of Bayan-Aklan. /gsg