Boracay Tourism Under Tight Scrutinity According to Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat

Philippines, Boracay, environment

Tourism State Secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat (CZAR DANCEL / MANILA BULLETIN)

The reopening of Boracay to domestic and international tourism is good news for Boracay, one of the most popular destinations in the Philippines. However, things might never be like before, after the six-month total closure of the island…

The government assured that it will strictly enforce the carrying capacity as well as the environmental laws, and has stood firm that there will be no casinos in the world-famous Boracay Island to maintain its pristine condition after it reopened on Friday.

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said that her office will ensure to maintain the set carrying capacity of 19,215 persons per day on the island. Many resorts- including some luxury resorts- did not receive approval to reopen and nothing indicates for now that they might be able to be back on business. The government recommends to visitors to book only establishments that have been cleared by the government which implement strict environmental criteria.

“Everybody wants to go to Boracay. As we have seen in social media a lot of the press have been covering not just local but also international press. They are actually very impressed at what we have done in six-month’s time,” said Romulo-Puyat in a press conference.

“Right now, our main task is to enforce the carrying capacity because everybody wants to come to Boracay,” she said.

The tourism chief added that some other countries also plan to “emulate” in their beaches what the Philippine government has done to Boracay.

Environmental Secretary Roy Cimatu said they will conduct a “periodic inspection” on the environmental compliance of all establishments in the country’s island paradise and will also continue to monitor the quality of water in Boracay beaches.

Meanwhile, Puyat stood firm that there will be no casinos in the island because it is the directive of President Duterte. “One cabinet meeting, it was agreed that the President already said there would be no casino or gambling, even the existing ones before Boracay opened… it would not be allowed to open,” said Puyat.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said his department has recommended the issuance of an executive order for the implementation of the said policy.

“The DOJ has specifically recommended the issuance of an executive order that will somehow guide not only the current administration but also for the longer term, the matter of implementing a policy of no casinos in Boracay,” said Guevarra.

“Boracay is a family-oriented activity, and not meant for foreigners and tourists who will come to Boracay not to enjoy the place but to engage in gambling,” he added.

Guevarra, meanwhile, said the franchises of the existing casinos in Boracay can be revoked anytime by the government. “We have given the opinion that franchise whether provisional or permanent is revocable at any time because that is a privilege granted by the state. It can be revoked any time,” he said.

This will not be the only change for the island. Plastic on the beach and smoking are totally banned and can be sanctioned including jail. Parties and alcool are also from now banned on the beaches of the island.

(Partial source: The Manila Bulletin)