MANILA — The Department of Tourism on Monday urged authorities to take "appropriate action" against the local government of Malay in Aklan after Boracay Island reportedly went beyond its carrying capacity during the Holy Week.
"We are asking the mayor to explain because he is answerable to this. Maling-mali eh," Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said.
She is counting on the Department of the Interior and Local Government and Department of Environment and Natural Resources to take action for alleged violation on health and safety protocols.
"Considering that the local government unit is still under Alert Level 1 status, strict implementation of measures to contain the spread of COVID-19 infections must be considered including the ideal volume of tourists within a given period," Puyat said.
Aklan is under COVID-19 Alert Level 1 until April 30.
On April 14 and 15, the number of tourists that arrived in the world-famous destination reached 21,252 and 22,519, respectively, she said.
The recommended daily threshold for Boracay Island is 19,215.
"'Yung carrying capacity to protect the island from over-tourism after rehabilitation na 19,215 per day was not even breached noong pre-pandemic," Puyat said. "‘Yung Laboracay 2019, 14,000 a day lang. So, it’s a concern na ngayon over 21,000. Pandemic pa."
The local government of Malay has yet to respond to the issue, although DILG Sec. Eduardo Año said he will be issuing an advisory and warning to it for its compliance.
"We must adhere to the defined carrying capacity of Boracay which is set at 19,215. The LGU should implement it in order to ensure the safety and health of tourists and residents; and protect the environment," said Año.
Holy Week is one of the most important holidays in the Philippines where thousands travel to visit their relatives or to take advantage of the long-weekend break.
On Sunday, the Philippines logged 195 new COVID-19 cases, the lowest daily tally so far in 2022.
The country's coronavirus cases rose to 3,683,042, of which 21,038 are active infections.
— Report from Jeff Canoy, ABS-CBN News