MANILA - The government is also checking on the status of other beaches in the country after President Rodrigo Duterte approved the total closure of popular tourist destination Boracay for 6 months to give way to its rehabilitation.
Tourism Assistant Secretary Frederick Alegre said the tourism, interior and environment departments have already started checking on the situation in El Nido and Coron in Palawan, Siargao in Surigao del Norte, Puerto Galera in Oriental Mindoro, and Bohol, where tourist drawing Panglao Island is located.
“Remember, Boracay is just a start. The President has already given the inter-agency task force the orders to take a look at all because we want, as I said, the Philippines not only to be a fun place to be in but also environmentally compliant,” Alegre said in a Palace press briefing.
Duterte earlier described Boracay as a “cesspool”, citing the island’s faulty sewerage system that saw wastewater being dumped into the open sea.
This triggered unprecedented cleanup on the island, including a crackdown on establishments violating environment and zoning regulations.
The government said the island’s sewerage and drainage systems would be fixed and illegally built structures would be destroyed during the 6-month cleanup period.
Alegre appealed for more patience from stakeholders whose lives will be disrupted by the island’s closure.
“Let’s be clear about this. This is being done to sustain and save Boracay. This is the first of many tourist destinations that we are going to look into; and the whole message is it’s still ‘More fun in the Philippines’ and more importantly, we are environmentally compliant. That’s the message that we want to get out,” Alegre said.
Alegre said the tourism department has also sent an advisory to all Philippine tourism attachés around the world that it’s still business as usual for the Philippine tourism industry.
“We have said this many times: Remind people, remind all the tourists who want to come to the booming tourism industry of the Philippines that we have the advantage of many alternative destinations. We just need the work and help of the airlines and the hotels to achieve this,” Alegre said.