Banishing Boracay’s sea smells

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BORACAY, Philippines, 23 February 2018: Reeling from a scathing attack from the Philippines’ President Rodrigo Duterte, earlier this month, tourism officials have pledged to rehabilitate the popular island resort of Boracay.

Top officials of the Department of Tourism (DOT), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), and Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) met, earlier this week, to launch the ‘Save Boracay’ campaign.

“We are here to save Boracay, to restore Boracay to its original form, which used to be a paradise before,” DOT chief Wanda Tulfo-Teo declared after a closed-door meeting with the DENR and DILG officials.

The DOT regional office for western Visayas gave updates following the activities undertaken by the DOT VI Boracay Compliance Monitoring Office, DOT VI Boracay Field Office, and the Malay Municipal Tourism Office to set in motion efforts to clean up marine pollution.

The DOT regional director Atty Helen Catalbas declared: “It is business as usual in Boracay Island as tourist traffic remains relatively similar, or heavier as compared to the past days and weeks.

Catalbas added that booking cancellations were insignificant and only 12 accommodation establishments with only 64 rooms and 192 visitors have reported cancellations.

Meanwhile, DENR has embarked on its operation plan: “Regain Paradise” taking on  board the difficult task of rehabilitating the damaged ecosystems of Boracay Island.

It could take years to complete the task although the President said he was giving official just months to demonstrate improvements or he would close down offending resorts and beaches.

“I’m going to Boracay soon to augment  operations that are clearing the drainage system of Boracay which is the first phase of our operations in DENR,” said environment secretary Roy Cimatu.

“We will make sure that those who are responsible for what has happened to Boracay will face  appropriate sanctions so there will no repeat of what happened in Boracay.”

Tourism undersecretary, Katherine De Castro, revealed that the department is crafting a communications plan about the developments in Boracay both for the local and international community.

Tourism secretary, Wanda Tulfo-Teo, added  she supports the directive of the President who handed out a six-month deadline to the DENR and the DILG to fix the problems of Boracay Island

Travel magazines and guidebooks describe the “white-sand beaches and crystal clear waters” of Boracay, but the reality highlighted by the President is a stark contrast.

Conde Nast Traveller called it the best island in the world just a year ago. Today, the Philippines President threatens a shutdown calling it a cesspool.

“I will close Boracay. Boracay is a cesspool,” Duterte told reporters” earlier in the month, wrong footing tourism officials who promote the island as a tourism gem.

The popular island resorts it has been struggling with sewerage issues that prompted the President to say tourists were swimming in water polluted by human faeces.

A number of businesses on Boracay are accused by the Philippines’ Environment Ministry of depositing untreated sewerage in the sea.

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