By Lilian C. Mellejor/PNA
Davao City – The Department of Tourism (DOT) recorded minimal cancellation of bookings in Boracay resorts and hotels after last week’s ultimatum of President Duterte for a massive cleanup to save the world-famous resort island.
Of the 57 big hotels and resorts called by DOT in Boracay, only eight guests canceled at Bamboo Beach Resort while 22 rooms were canceled at the Blue Marin Boracay.
This was revealed by Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo in a press conference at Marco Polo Hotel here on Friday. Teo based this on a text message from the DoT director in Boracay.
“I think it’s limited,” Teo said when asked about the impact of the Boracay issue to the tourism industry there.
“The cancellations were attributed to the President’s declaration. So hindi ganun talaga ang effect (So the effect is not really that – big),” Teo said.
Teo said tourists still have other places to visit like Bohol and Cebu.
“We also promote other destinations like Siargao and there’s Coron. So kung wala na pong Boracay meron naman pong ibang lugar na pwede nating i-promote hindi naman po isasara lahat eh it’s only those which have violated (So if Boracay is no longer there, there are other places that we can promote because not all will be closed it’s only those which have violated),’ Teo pointed out.
Teo underscored the objective of the cleanup of Boracay now. “At the end of the day, it’s the future of the next generation. Kawawa naman kung hindi natin ayusin ang Boracay now (It’s a pity if we will not fix Boracay now). Now is the time to save Boracay,” Teo said.
Teo announced she will return to Boracay anytime soon to see the amount of compliance of the environmental and eco-tourism laws by the tourism establishments.
She said she will invite Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu and Local Government Acting Secretary Eduardo Año to join her in Boracay for another inspection.
The cleanup campaign of Boracay will not be “ningas cogon,” according to Teo. She said when she was still in the private sector she already heard complaints from her clients about itchy skin after taking a dip at a Boracay resort.
“So dun pa lang nakikita ko na may problema na ang Boracay (So from there I already knew Boracay has problems),” she said.
According to Undersecretary Kat de Castro, there are two sides of Boracay – the white beach side that is popular for picture taking and the Bulabog Beach where the water is already brownish color.
It is the Bulabog Beach side that DOT wanted to immediately fix for the meantime with the help of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the private stakeholders.
De Castro said some of the establishments were concerned about the six months closure because their businesses will be affected.
But De Castro said the important thing is for Boracay to return to its pristine situation.
De Castro said DOT already received information that many private business establishments are fixing their sewage system and the water treatment facility.
“So may impact talaga yung sinabi ng presidente (what the president said has really an impact),” she said.
The DOT reiterated its full support to the directive of the President to impose a six-month ultimatum on fixing the problems of Boracay.
“The massive cleanup of Boracay is a bitter pill that we have to swallow if we were to collectively save and sustain Boracay,” Teo said in a statement read by Undersecretary Frederick Alegre during the presscon.
Teo lauded the DENR for its efforts. DENR has ordered the closure of some 200 tourism establishments in Boracay found violating environmental laws and regulation.
The areas of violation cited include easement as well as water and solid waste disposal.