Only 5,000 hotel rooms ready by Boracay reopening: Tourism chief

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 16 2018 12:41 PM | Updated as of Aug 16 2018 01:45 PM

MANILA - Some 3,000 to 5,000 hotel rooms are expected to comply with environmental laws and be available to tourists by October 26 when Boracay island reopens after its half-year closure, Tourism Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat said Tuesday. 

There are about 15,000 hotel rooms in total in the island, but many resorts have yet to comply with the new permits and accreditation set by a multi-agency task force, Puyat told ABS-CBN News during her first visit to Boracay since becoming tourism chief. 

Boracay was shuttered to tourists on April 26 to give way to the rehabilitation of its sewerage system and the removal of illegal structures, after President Rodrigo Duterte branded the world-renowned beach destination as a "cesspool." 

During the clean-up, officials have discovered that some 21 illegal sewer pipes were discharging water along Boracay's beachfront. Structures breaching the 30-meter easement zone were also demolished.

When the island reopens, President Rodrigo Duterte had said he wants only a small part left for tourism and its majority turned into a land reform area to prioritize original inhabitants.

PLANS FOR GREENER BORACAY 

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The government is studying a possible curfew in Boracay when it reopens, said Puyat. 

The number of tourists will also be limited based on the environment department's study on the island’s carrying capacity, the findings of which will be released this August, she said. 

The inter-agency task force for Boracay's rehabilitation has also set up a one-stop shop at a mall in the island, where stakeholders can apply for business permits, accreditation and environment clearance certificates. 

Some business owners have appealed for more time to fulfill requirements before the August 18 deadline. 

The requirements include putting up a sewage treatment plant for each hotel that has at least 49 rooms. 

Report from Jeff Canoy, ABS-CBN News