MANILA - The planned shutdown of Boracay will have measures in place to protect travelers who have already booked their vacation on the island, the Department of Tourism (DOT) said Thursday.
DOT Assistant Secretary Frederick Alegre clarified that there is no date yet on when the planned 60-day shutdown of establishments in Boracay will start, but they are eyeing the "lean" months of June to September during which the number of visitors is low.
The shutdown was earlier suggested by the government to facilitate the clean-up of the country's top tourist destination and address its wastewater problem.
"Sa oras na i-anunsyo yung 60-day closure, meaning shut down, we will be ready to announce this globally," Alegre told DZMM radio.
He said that once the two-month shutdown is set, the government will ask hotels and tour operators to stop accepting bookings during the period.
The government will also ask hotels, tour operators and even airlines to allow travelers to rebook free of charge, or transfer their bookings to other destinations within the Philippines.
"Lahat po yan ay magagawan ng paraan," Alegre said, noting that a similar situation happened last year when martial law was declared in Mindanao and many cancelled or rescheduled their trips to the southern Philippines.
He added that the government is looking to develop other destinations near Boracay, such as the beaches of Caticlan, as Boracay already exceeded its "maximum carrying capacity" as early as 2008.
"Let's face it, Boracay island is... humihingi ng pahinga," Alegre said.