Boracay to Reopen only in Phases

Boracay, Philippines, destination management

Once upnn the time, Boracay Island...

In contrary to earlier assumptions, Boracay Island in the Philippines will not be fully back into the market from next month. Only a third of total accommodation is due to open in October…

The news a few months ago about the total reopening of Boracay might have been a bit premature. At the end of August, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy Cimatu announced that the government will conduct a partial reopening of Boracay Island to local tourists by October 16.

DENR Secretary explained to local media that it will only first be a test phase, scheduled from October 16 to 25 with only 1,000 rooms to be on sale. The test will help the government to assess what else needs to be done before the island will be reopened to all tourists both domestic and foreign on October 26.

Planning for Boracay Island now mentions that only 5,000 hotel rooms will be available after October 26, a mere 33 per cent of a total capacity of 15,000 rooms. The rest is due to be opened by April 2019 and even after that date.

The phased reopening is due to the fact that the carrying tourism capacity of Boracay Island has been breached in the last couple of years, according to a study by a multidisciplinary team of experts from the DENR-Ecosystems and Research Development Bureau (ERDB) and University of the Philippines-Los Baños. This has led to the “generation of too much waste and deterioration of water quality,” according to Roy Cimatu.

The study revealed that the theoretical carrying capacity of the island stands at 55,000 people daily. This includes the island’s 36,000 residents and 19,000 tourists. It will however be hard to control the 19,000 visitors as there is no certified method of calculation and limitation of incoming travellers.

Professionals working in Boracay mention also the fact that many roads are still uncompleted, jeopardizing a smooth redeployment of tourism activities for the island.