Government to decide soon on Boracay’s fate

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 03 2018 01:23 PM | Updated as of Jan 09 2019 03:16 PM

MANILA - The government will soon decide on the proposal to temporarily close famed beach destination Boracay to tourists to give way to its rehabilitation, a Palace official said Tuesday.

Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra said the interior, environment, and tourism departments have already submitted their detailed proposal for the 6-month closure of the island paradise beginning April 26.

Guevarra said the matter may be tackled during the Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, April 4.

“The final action on Boracay may be taken up during the Cabinet meeting,” Guevarra said in a text message to reporters.

Guevarra said in a press briefing on Monday that the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), taking into consideration the livelihood of locals who depend on the tourism industry, has proposed that the island’s closure be done in phases.

He said the Palace would seriously consider the DTI’s proposal.

President Rodrigo Duterte, who earlier described Boracay as a cesspool, earlier said he is amenable to a 6-month closure of the island to allow its rehabilitation.

Businesses and workers have been anxiously waiting for government’s decision on Boracay, especially that the proposed April 26 shutdown comes before the annual Labor Day parties on the island which attract thousands of tourists.

Guevarra had said that while Boracay's rehabilitation is Duterte’s main consideration, the chief executive is also looking at other factors in deciding on government action on Boracay.

A shutdown of Boracay island could lead to job losses for 36,000 people and P56 billion in lost revenues, stakeholders earlier said, 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 massage therapists, tattoo artists and vendors by the beach, data showed.

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

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