The story of Boracay, the island with white sandy beaches that has been the pinnacle of world-class resorts in the Philippines, has been a troubled one in recent years, and turned out to be really ugly underneath this early 2018. The sheer degree of environmental damage discovered was so unsettling that President Rodrigo Duterte ordered a six-month rehabilitation period. This closure, which started April, shuttered businesses and accommodations as well as removed domestic flight schedules, but the inconvenience and the economic hit are turning out to be worth it. This October, close to the end of rehab, Boracay has reopened.
But not completely; the official date for when tourists can return to Boracay island is on October 26. Still, as CNN Philippines reports, there needs to be a shakedown period to determine if the fixes to the islands ecosystem and business infrastructure will be good for long-term and will not be overwhelmed by the return of so many people. Thus, a dry-run soft opening was planned and took effect this Monday, October 15. The visitors were limited in scope, specifically allowing only residents of Aklan province, of which Boracay is part of, as well as tourists from Western Visayas only.
Access to Boracay for this specific-guest dry run is as before, by sea from Caticlan Port, with the disembarkation point on the island being Station 3 or Barangay Balabag, upon which a temporary boat jetty has been set up while the main one is kept for the actual opening. Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat of the Department of Tourism (DOT) hopes that test run can verify that all the new improvements to the resort island are ready.
“We went around the island today and it’s very clean and there’s an excitement that it will finally open,” said Sec. Puyat in a statement regarding the Boracay soft reopening. “I was talking to residents and they were saying this is what Boracay looked like 30 years back. People are excited to see the clean, pristine Boracay but of course I’m reminding the public to manage their expectations.” The dry run period will take place over 10 days from October 15, transitioning into a full opening on October 26. But even then renovations and rehabilitation of the infrastructure, especially the roads will be ongoing, with Sec. Puyat estimating that it will take two years more to fully mend Boracay’s environment.
Only about 68 hotel and lodging establishments have been cleared to resume their operations during the dry run period, with just over 3,500 rooms available. Even then, potential Boracay visitors must book their upcoming accommodations on the official hotel list available on the DOT website.
Image courtesy of ABS-CBN News