Although some Boracay resorts will be allowed to operate during the island’s looming closure — visitors will not be able to reach them.
An official of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has said that “compliant” resorts could remain open after April 26 — the likely date for the closure of the island — but all tourists would be forbidden from setting foot on the island.
Speaking in in an interview with CNN Philippines’s The Source, DILG spokesman Epimaco Densing said: “We’re not shutting down the businesses on the island, that’s clear.
“Those who are compliant can still be open. Those who are noncompliant, we will close them. The irony is, we will block their guests at the jetty port.
“We will have a system where foreign and local tourists will not be allowed to enter the island. Compliant resorts can operate; they just won’t have guests.”
Meanwhile, the Department of Tourism (DOT) is now working with online travel-booking sites to help tourists rebook alter their travel plans without incurring penalties.
In text message to the BusinessMirror, DOT Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs, Communications and Special Projects Frederick Alegre said: “Communications with them are ongoing. We started with TripAdvisor because we have an ongoing project with them.”
He also confirmed that local airlines had agreed to refund tickets issued to Boracay-bound passengers and waive rebooking fees. “If the airlines can do it, why not the hotels and resorts, and tour operators?” he asked.
Research done by TripAdvisor showed that between January 2015 and September 2017, Boracay was the second most viewed city in the Philippines after Manila.
Data from the DOT showed foreign foreign visitors to Boracay totalled 1.05 million last year. Of these, most came from China (375,284) followed by South Korea (356,644); Taiwan (40,802); the US (22,648); Malaysia (20,585); the UK (17,416): Saudi Arabia (15,944); Australia (15,365); Russia (14,074) and Singapore (9,897).
Task Force Boracay, which is composed of the DILG, DENR and DOT, has recommended that President Duterte put Boracay under a “state of calamity” and close it for six months for “environmental rehabilitation”.
It has also been suggested that local politicians, from the governor down to barangay officials, could be charged with administrative offences for tolerating the environmental violations on the island.