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Boracay, a ‘premium destination’ after rehab

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By the Philippine News Agency

Iloilo City – The Department of Tourism (DOT) here is looking forward to see Boracay Island as a “premium destination” after its rehabilitation.

“I envision Boracay to be a premium destination after it is closed, and then rehabilitated and opened big time to the world tourism community. It is going to be a destination that has the class that the world expects from the best island in the world,” lawyer Helen J. Catalbas, DOT-Western Visayas regional director, said during a media briefing on “Oplan Save Boracay” Thursday. Catalbas said it will not have an image as a “cheap destination” that sometimes “eclipses the world-class facilities of the island.”

Tourism receipts reveal Boracay earned P56 billion in 2017 from the 2,001,974 tourists who visited the island paradise.

She noted that should the President approve the recommendation of an inter-agency committee to close the world-class resort island for a year does not mean it will no longer accept tourists.“It’s not totally closed to tourists, but we should inform them that they should not expect Boracay to be really orderly when they arrive,” Catalbas added.

DOT will handle how tourism “will go on or not go on” once the closure is implemented.

“The full scale closure is not feasible and I don’t think that it is the intention of the DOT,” Catalbas said.

Once the closure is approved, violators would be closed down but compliant establishments will continue to operate, she added.

Job fairs

A monitoring of accommodation booking from Feb. 12 until March 15 by the Boracay Field Office of DOT 6 (Western Visayas) showed that only 16 hotels/resorts had reported cancellations. These are mostly small or those with less than 50 rooms and mostly unaccredited.

The cancellations involved 81 rooms with 254 estimated guests.

However, based on initial findings, the cancellations were “insignificant and may not be related to the pronouncement of the President.”

No flights have been cancelled at the Kalibo and Caticlan airports, and operation of  roll on–roll off (RO-RO) vessels continues.

The Kalibo International Airport is connected to at least 10 international airports in mainland China, aside from its domestic flight accommodations.

Catalbas said they could not yet determine how many percent of the 19,031 workers in Boracay as of 2017 would be displaced once the closure proceeds.

The Department of Labor and Employment has said it is ready to assist workers who would be displaced through its package of services like job facilitation, livelihood and emergency employment and skills upgrading and retooling with the support of  the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).

DOLE Regional Director Johnson Cañete said two job fairs will be held on April 26 and June 15 in Kalibo and Malay, respectively.

The Boracay Industry Tripartite Council said displaced workers would be hired by members not affected by the closure.

Boracay last year contributed 34 percent of the total tourist arrivals in Western Visayas and almost one to six million foreign tourists in the country.

“Sustainability development goes beyond the monetary side. That is for the long term,” Catalbas said.

She said Boracay is “bursting at the seams” and without any “drastic move”, it would “not last for 10 years.”

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