Boracay closure was 'blessing in disguise' says Tourism chief

Cathy Yang, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 28 2019 09:14 AM | Updated as of Jun 28 2019 11:02 AM

A pristine white sand beach in Boracay Island taken on October 25, 2018. Fernando G. Sepe Jr., ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA - The closure of Boracay was difficult for a lot of tourism stakeholders but it was also "a blessing in disguise" according to Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat.

The country's tourism chief said that Boracay's closure led travelers to discover other equally interesting destinations in the country.

"All of a sudden, Siargao became Conde Nast's number 1 island to visit," Puyat said in an exclusive interview with ANC's The Boss.

Siquijor also became popular, as well as Dumaguete. Cebu, which was already a top destination, saw an even greater influx of tourists, said Puyat.

Puyat said that she was actually surprised that foreign and domestic tourist arrivals increased despite the closure of Boracay.

Another "blessing" to come out of Boracay's closure was people came to understand the concept of sustainable tourism, Puyat said.

Besides the laws that were already in place regarding easements, smoking and drinking bans, and protecting the environment, people became familiar with the concept of carrying capacity.

After Boracay was reopened in October from a 6-month long closure, the Tourism Department limited visitors to 19,000 a day on top of 15,000 workers to keep to its 55,000 carrying capacity.

Puyat meanwhile said the government has no plans to shut down other popular tourist sites like Bohol, El Nido and Siargao despite the issues cropping up in these destinations.

She said that the government is looking to rehabilitate these places without closing them off to tourists because a lot of resorts in these areas follow regulations and it would be unfair to close them too.

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