By Emmie V. Abadilla
San Miguel Corporation (SMC), operator of the Boracay Airport in Caticlan, stands to lose a lot of business in the half year shutdown of one of the world’s most famous beach destinations, but welcomes the government’s move to rejuvenate Boracay Island, nonetheless.
“Yes, we will endure some short-term pain but it’s a step in the right direction. In the end, we are hopeful it would bring about long-term gain for all,” Ramon S. Ang, SMC president and COO yesterday acknowledged.
“The island needs to be rehabilitated and we have to support the government,” he stressed.
“Addressing long-standing problems with sewage and solid wastes brought about by rapid growth of tourism, commerce and unfettered development now, is critical to ensuring Boracay’s long-term sustainability,” the SMC President elaborated.
However, to ensure that Boracay will continue to thrive, all concerned sectors, including government, businesses, developers and its residents, must also look beyond the island and move to disperse tourism to nearby municipalities such as Caticlan and Nabas.
This would result in higher tourism revenues for the whole of Aklan province, more jobs for locals, and increased competitiveness of the Philippines as a tourist destination.
More significantly, it will also allow for the decongestion of Boracay island, he pointed out.
A novel approach to solve Boracay’s environmental woes and spur growth to other areas in Aklan is to build a Caticlan-to-Boracay bridge, Ang proposed.
The bridge would reduce the need for tourists and tourism workers to stay in the island.
“Tourists and visitors will have the option to go to Boracay during the day and in the afternoon or at night for accommodations outside the island,” he noted.
The accessibility of Boracay, through the proposed bridge, would enable developers to build hotels and resorts outside the island.
These can be premiere destinations in their own right as these areas also boast of beautiful beaches and coastlines.
Some new establishments, on the other hand, can be positioned as alternative or more affordable accommodations for tourists.
At the same time, accommodations for workers can also be built.
Thousands of tourism workers from neighboring provinces do not need to reside in Boracay anymore and contribute to the growth in population and waste.
“The development of neighboring areas would boost Aklan’s economy as a whole, while keeping the island of Boracay sustainable for generations to come,” Ang underscored.
Building a bridge could likewise solve the garbage and sewage problem on the island and can be used as a safe way to deliver sewage via pipes, which would be built into the bridge design, out of the Boracay.