A tamed Boracay back in business

MANILA, 26 July 2019:  The official word is that Boracay’s six-month closure didn’t negatively impact on the Philippines’ overall tourism performance.

The holiday island reopened last October following a six-months shutdown to tackle pollution after the country’s president called the resort island a “cesspool.”

The description stuck along with the smells and sewage that seeped from hundreds of hotels and guesthouses to the island’s bays.

But overall, the Department of Tourism reported 2018 closed with a 7.68% increase in tourist arrivals according to the Philippines News Agency report earlier this week.

Last year, the Philippines registered 7.1 million international tourist arrivals, a record surpassing 6,620,908 trips in 2017.

The storyline suggests travellers switched to other beach destinations with Cebu and Siargao benefiting the most from Boracay’s misfortune.

Installation of water treatment systems and public utilities is now complete.

However, strict rules apply to meet carrying capacity limits. Tourists must stay in hotels and guesthouses that are registered and have passed an environmental fitness test.

Earlier this month, authorities lifted the moratorium on airline flights to the island in a move to boost visits.

But restrictions on beach parties and even smoking on the beaches are enforced.  Boracay is no longer the top spot for wild beach parties.

A Department of Tourism Facebook post recently confirmed 368 accommodation establishments have now been authorised for tourists to book. It gives the island more than 13,000 rooms.

Properties, regardless of their size, must secure permits and clearances from the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

Since last October, the government restricted the daily intake of tourists to 19,000 in addition to the 15,000 workers on the island with the ceiling set at 55,000 people allowed to visit the island at any one time. The count includes residents.

Boracay Island’s rehabilitation was the first chapter in a government plan to clean up other beach destinations, including Panglao in Bohol and El Nido in Palawan.

Meanwhile, for the first five months of 2019, the country welcomed 3,489,270 visitors, which reflect a 9.76% increase over the same period last year.

For 2018, the tourism industry’s contribution to the country’s Gross Domestic Product rose to 12.7%, based on data provided by the Philippine Statistics Authority. The Tourism Direct Gross Value Added (TDGVA) also amounted to PHP2.2 trillion, which is an increase of 14.3% from the 2017 TDGVA of PHP1.9 trillion.

To date, the country has 12 international gateways that serve 49 designated tourism areas in the Philippines, eight of which have already undergone rehabilitation and improvements.

New airports opened in 2018 such as the Mactan-Cebu International Airport that can accommodate 12.5 million passengers per year, and the Bohol-Panglao International Airport with an annual capacity of 3 million passengers.

(Source: Philippines News Agency)