By Analou De Vera
The Department of Tourism (DOT) is expecting that the international tourist arrivals will increase in the succeeding months, once the world-famous Boracay Island reopens in October.
Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat underscored that despite the six-month shutdown of Boracay, the Philippines’ visitor arrivals have increase by 9.74 percent for the period of January to July 2018, adding that the consolidated efforts of the stakeholders and the government has “greatly contributed” to the satisfactory performance of the country’s tourism industry.
“With the soft opening of Boracay on October 26, we expect that the tourist arrival will further increase in the coming months,” said Puyat in her speech at the Philippine Travel Exchange event Wednesday.
Puyat said that they look forward to Boracay’s soft opening but they have to make sure that all stakeholders commit in “preserving the pristine quality of the island and the seawater.”
Despite the island’s soft opening two months from now, Puyat said the government’s efforts shall continue as rehabilitating the island will be done in phases.
“This is to ensure that all tourism establishments and service providers are compliant with the standards set by the government and that all necessary infrastructure and facilities are in place for its full operation,” said Puyat.
She noted that the first phase of the rehabilitation would be completed in time for the soft opening. The second phase of the rehabilitation will end by April next year, while the last phase is expected to be completed by the end of 2019.
“We hope to make the island a model for sustainable tourism that will serve as a stark lesson in balancing development and protecting the environment,” said Puyat.
The tourism chief also noted that other resort destinations in the country are also being evaluated to prevent similar degradation. “All of these are part of our holistic approach in creating a culture of sustainable tourism and nurturing a truly viable tourism ecosystem,” she said.
Puyat said that the DOT has existing partnerships with the departments of transportation, justice, and public works and highways, also known as the convergence program. “The said partnerships are aimed to improve accessibility of tourist destinations, increase air connectivity; and improve tourism-related infrastructure, facilities and services,” said Puyat.