SHUTTING down Boracay may result in losses amounting to P56 billion, according to stakeholders on Thursday, as they suggested rehabilitation instead of closure of businesses on the island resort.
The Philippine Tour Association (PHILTOA), Philippine Travel Agencies Association (PTAA), Tourism Congress of the Philippines (TCP), Boracay Foundation, and the Organization of Hotel Sales and Marketing Professionals (HSMA) made the proposal based on the total tourism receipts from January to September 2017.
“The salability of the Philippines as a tourism destination vis-a-vis its competitors in the region will be greatly compromised by a closure. All the hard work and marketing efforts of the tourism industry over the years will all come to naught, while our regional competitors will reap the benefits as tourists divert their travels elsewhere,” the organizations said in a joint statement.
“It is undeniable that Boracay is the centerpiece of a visitor’s trip. The fact that Boracay is portrayed as an environmental disaster will speak not just of the island, but of the Philippines as a destination as a whole, because if it can happen to the No. 1 tourism destination product of the country, then it can happen to the rest of our tourism offerings,” the organizations added.
Instead of closure, the stakeholders proposed that the government should give 60 days for establishments to rectify, clean-up and rehabilitate their respective properties. Only those found to have violated environmental laws and zoning regulations should be closed.
“If efforts made are not enough, then and only then will a closure be effected. If timelines are followed, said closure to happen in June 2018, in time for the so-called Low/Habagat season,” they said.
President Rodigo Duterte has likened Boracay to a “cesspool” amid reports that business establishments on the island were responsible for destroying the environment in the popular island resort.
Duterte ordered the closure of the country’s No. 1 tourist destination while a government clean-up is effected and those found guilty of violating environmental laws be held accountable. REICELENE IGNACIO