Foreign tourists decry Boracay closure as extreme and hasty

Published April 9, 2018, 10:00 PM

by Mario Casayuran and Vanne Elaine Terrazola

By Tara Yap

Boracay, Aklan – For some foreign tourists, the total closure of this world-famous holiday destination is an extreme measure and is being hastily done.

“They are going about it in an extreme way,” said Lee de Picciotto from Los Angeles, California, USA, referring to the closure which takes effect April 26.

“There are ways to clean it (Boracay) up without closing it down completely. They should close it by sections so people can continue working and visiting here,” De Picciotto told Manila Bulletin.

Another visitor, Thomas Dalton of England, lamented the lack of proper guidelines.

“The government does not have a clear action plan. I’ve talked to waiters and residents here. They don’t know what will happen,” Dalton said.

While the Briton agrees that Boracay must be rehabilitated to restore its status as the country’s top tourist draw, he noted that the lack of concrete action from the national government two weeks prior to closure could lead to chaos.

“Will the government have to bring in the military to force people to leave?”  he said.

As the closure date nears, Dalton noted that certain resorts and restaurants have been cutting down their menus.

De Picciotto said the government’s rehabilitation program could change the island’s “energy and vibe.” “Maybe they can clean it up, but Boracay won’t be the same,” he said.

The island’s biggest business group had warned that shutting down Boracay will adversely affect the entire country’s tourism industry.

“The backlash from a total closure would certainly be felt for years and we all know that this will most definitely affect not only Boracay’s tourism industry, but the entire country’s tourism as a whole,” Boracay Foundation,  Inc. (BFI) noted in a recent statement.

“Boracay is a brand name, which the community painstakingly worked passionately to be recognized worldwide,” it said.

Of the 6.6 million tourists that visited the country last year, more than 2 million headed for Boracay.

The 1,032-hectare resort island also contributed P56 billion to the economy in fiscal year 2017.

The influx of tourists was largely credited to decades of promotion not only domestically, but abroad. Boracay has proven to attract Chinese, South Koreans, Europeans and Americans.

“Marketing the island has cost us billions in financial investments, not to mention years of campaign to build up the name and reputation of Boracay – hailed as “the crown jewel of Philippine tourism” and one of the world’s  best islands,” BFI pointed out.

“It would be a shame and utter waste to see the investments that have been the results of the island stakeholders’ blood , sweat and tears simply go down the drain in an instant, with an irreversible loss that will be very hard to recover once total closure in enacted,”  it said.