September is drawing to a close, and only about one month remains until the cleanup and redevelopment of the nation’s most famous resort island Boracay, closed since late April, comes to an end. The early days of rehabilitation made headlines for shocking discoveries of bad waste management and similar environmentally damaging business malpractices. A soft reopening for Boracay is expected to be undertaken on October 26, a golden date for many local and international tourists. But there is going to be a catch: a plan to set a maximum tourist limit, which in turn could make Boracay vacations more expensive.
ABS-CBN News reports that Undersecretary Epimaco Densing of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) is proposing to put a cap on the number of tourists and vacationers going to Boracay at any given time, as soon as the resort island reopens next month. Studies by the department has shown that in the past, Boracay has been forced to bear the burden of so many people on vacation, far too many for an island to effectively support with the addition of the business operators, employees, public servants and residents. The problem is that would potentially increase Boracay vacation rates.
“If we use the law of supply and demand, there’s a potential that rates in Boracay will rise,” notes Densing in interview. “In other words, because there will be fewer tourists visiting the island amid high demand, the rates may go up.” The DILG study proposes freezing the number of tourists allowed on Boracay to never go over 19,000; that figure, added to the 36,000 residents and business workers would total 55,000 people on Boracay but no more, to maintain the island’s optimum capacity. It is noted that during the annual Labor Day holiday, the tourists alone could number 70,000.
President Rodrigo Duterte first brought the appalling environmental conditions of Boracay, and demanded that the resort island be closed off to further tourism over half a year in order to subject it to some intense environmental rehabilitation. A proposal by DILG Undersecretary Densing would have Boracay be accessible only via day tour, with tourists and vacationers being mandated to stay on mainland communities like Caticlan. Members of the inter-agency Task Force Boracay will meet this Friday, September 28, to discuss the best approach to both limiting tourist numbers while still keeping Boracay an affordable vacation travel destination for Filipino tourists.
As of this writing, the BTS notes that Boracay is tourist-ready at last, and the presence of algae and coliform bacteria has been reduced to below the threshold “warning levels”.
Image from The Philippine Star