Lessons to learn from Boracay closure

THE GOOD THING ABOUT THE CLOSURE OF BORACAY is Panglao, Bohol need not commit the same mistake twice. Because even just a six-month closure is god-awful bad for the island. 

For instance, Eagle Watch says that the six months closure of Boracay negatively impacts the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 0.1 percent. That may appear numerically small but in reality – this means that if the country were to achieve a 6.8 percent GDP growth this year – it will be reduced to 6.7% due to Boracay’s closure.That’s an awful lot, Gents.

Boracay accounts for 20% of the total country tourism receipts or P318-Million in 2017. If the six months closure had happened last year, then Boracay’s tour revenues would only have been P159-Million or a mere half only-since the closure is for only six months.

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Or probably lower, because the closure is to occur during the peak months period beginning April 26.

Directly impacted will be 17,000 tourism employees (unless safety nets have been provided) in the island plus 19,000 in the indirectly related industries. That will potentially whip the industries involving accommodation, transportation, travel agencies, souvenir shops. shopping, food and beverage and entertainment.

That closure also means that the hotels, resorts, and restaurants will have no income for half a year – decreasing their VAT and income tax remittances to the government.

Worse, there is Kalibo, Aklan whose international airport caters to 13 international airlines bringing 800,000 foreign visitors of Boracay’s 1.9 million total visitors last year. With the closure, Kalibo’s economy will flounder in a major way with the airport bereft of business.

This situation in the island- Boracay probably had it coming.

Because several years ago the fragile island was already classified as having an overcapacity in its number of visitors relative to the natural resources but the propagandists kept on harping to increase more and more tourists.

It is always a given that when demand exceeds supply, the natural resources, as in Boracay, suffers.

An island can only take so much visitors a day to become sustainable as a going concern, so to speak. Do you think 1,9 million or 39,000 visitors a week is sustainable for a Boracay size?

Neglect and greed caused many of the establishments there to skip wastewater treatment facilities bringing the coliform and fecal level to horrible levels – prompting the closure of this “cesspool”.

Commercialism has also brought ambulant vendors along the shorelines-  selling all kinds of wares including “Massage, sir” and even popular stores like Starbucks and Pizza Hut were allowed to peddle their stuff.That has to lead to something messy.

My, they even provided a “provisional” permit for a gambling casino called Galaxy of Macau to set foot in Boracay. Why? That seemed like an incongruous business to the sand and sea leisure tag.

Last week, DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) secretary (former AFP Chief of Staff Roy Cimatu was shocked to discover that the coliform level in Bulabog Beach in Boracay shot to 2 million again ( Most Probable Number per 100 milliliters) when it was reported to have gone down to only 2,000 two weeks ago.

This proves that seawaters are not at a standstill. And coliform dirt in one area can easily drift into the seawaters elsewhere in the island.

Meanwhile, in Coron, Palawan which has 178,000 visitors in a year- Cimatu ordered 75 establishments to remove their illegal structures under the allowed salvage limits within 30 days or face closure.

Cited as a legal basis is the Water Code of the Philippines governing seawaters, lakes and rivers and the  Civil Code of the Philippines which clearly defines that such bodies of water are the property of public dominion.

What lessons can Panglao, Bohol take away from the Boracay Imbroglio? Plenty.

Aside from the TIEZA, who is really in charge of plotting the sustainable number of rooms ( which will impact the number of visitors) in Panglao such that the island will remain in the future as an environmental- going concern, so to speak? Factoring in the new Panglao, Bohol Airport- can Panglao’s natural resources ably hack the presence of such huge numbers of visitors in the future?

Mactan and Panglao islands have been unceremoniously mentioned by the Regional DENR as having waters that may no longer be healthy for human swimming or ingesting. How soon then- can all the  Panglao wastewater treatment facilities – both common and individual- be put into place? So as not to aggravate the situation?

What about the illegal structures? Two weeks ago -there were still violations in Panglao – it would be embarrassing if Cimatu issues a new warning for them  (like Coron)for non-compliance even after national media had already made a case for their demolition.

And yes – yes to giant waterparks but no to casinos, please. 

Task Force Boracay and Task Force Coron had been formed and been found wanting with the new DENR findings.

We certainly hope our own Task Force Panglao is on top of the job- setting and meeting objectives for the short and the long-term.

For comments: email to dejarescobingo@yahoo.com or bohol-rd@mozcom.com



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