Boracay shutdown: 36,000 jobs, P56 billion revenues may be lost

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 22 2018 11:21 AM | Updated as of Mar 22 2018 02:11 PM

Boracay tourism and resorts stakeholders hold a press conference in Makati on Thursday. The group, composed of resort owners and operators in the island, urges the government to hold deeper dialogues and refrain from pushing through with the year-long shutdown of the island. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - A shutdown of Boracay Island could lead to job losses for 36,000 people and P56 billion in lost revenue, stakeholders said Thursday, as they appealed for a partial, instead of a full closure.

Some 19,000 people work in the formal sector including hotels, resorts, restaurants, dive shops, souvenir shops, tour activity centers, and transport providers, data from the Boracay Foundation showed.

Another 17,000 work in the informal sector as masseurs, tattoo artists and vendors by the beach, data showed.

Around P56 billion in tourism revenue will be lost if the island is closed for 9 months, based on the island's revenue during the first 9 months of 2017, data showed. This is equivalent to roughly 20 percent of the country's total tourism receipts.

"On top of these are the families and dependents of these workers. The impact on individual lives cannot be ignored," tourism organizations and tour operators in Boracay said in a statement.

The closure should be partial and should not cover the entire island, said Boracay Foundation board member Leonard Tirol.

"If you wanna close it, give time to the stakeholders to earn some revenue so that we can sustain our workers," he said, adding the closure should be during the lean months from September to October not during the April to June peak.

Recovery from a shutdown will be an "uphill climb," the Boracay Foundation said.

President Rodrigo Duterte flagged the island's pollution problems, calling it a "cesspool." This prompted legislative inquiries and checks for compliance with environment laws in other tourist destinations.

Boracay is one of the Philippines' top 8 tourist destinations, according to the Department of Tourism. In 2017, there some 3.72 million people flew to the island, according to the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines.

"The stakeholders are willing to help but if we do not know what the plans are, then we cannot do anything to help in the general rehabilitation," said Jose Clemente III, president of the Tourism Congress of the Philippines.