Business groups back Boracay moratorium
By MAX V. DE LEON
Business Mirror Reporter
Filipino businessmen have supported the controversial moratorium on construction activities in Boracay and called for a revision of its masterplan so that it would become a high-end tourist destination, with Aklan providing the low-cost accommodations and Carabao Island hosting the casino operations.
Samie Lim, president of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), said that even if it is the most famous destination in the Philippines right now, Boracay will not be able to achieve the target of attracting 5 million tourists annually due to its size limitation.
“Boracay must redo its masterplan together with Aklan and Carabao Island because Boracay, on its own, will not be able to do it,” Lim, a long-time tourism committee chairman of the PCCI before he became its president, told the Businessmirror in a recent interview.
Lim said the moratorium on developments in the island should remain until the national government and the local units there have firmed up strategies on how to address issues like sewage system and the other facilities.
The moratorium is being enforced on orders of Environment Secretary Lito Atienza, citing the continuing environmental degradation of Boracay owing to unbridled construction even as the provision of basic infrastructure, such as for sewerage, is not keeping apace.
In the interview, Lim said Boracay as a prime tourist destination is now like a sinking ship that needs to be repaired “the sooner the better.”
One important service that should be established there, Lim said, is the ferry system to allow the so-called “backpackers” and mass tourists to get off the island at night and then stay in cheap rooms in Aklan where they will clean up and “throw away everything.”
This way, Lim explained, “They will be able to get the best of worlds. They can stay in cheap hotels in Aklan and then go to the white-sand beaches in Boracay in the morning.”
He said the ferry system should be like the one in Hong Kong where the boats come and go every 10 minutes.
Boracay, on the other hand, will have the hotels’ room rates at $200 to $1,000 per night.
Nearby Carabao Island , meanwhile, will be the site for the casinos.
“Boracay will always have the finest beach suited for the high-end class. That is why it is correct to stop all these construction [work] that will kill Boracay,” Lim said.
The moratorium on construction in Boracay, which was done with the coordination of the environment department and the local government units there, became controversial after it affected several projects.
The most high-profile project affected is the P1.2-billion Crown Regency Boracay Hotel and Convention Center, envisioned to become the biggest resort in the island.
It is now a subject of a court case after the DENR issued a CDO on its construction.