By Chito Chavez
Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Officer-in-Charge (OIC) Eduardo Año said over the weekend that only 19,000 tourists may be allowed on Boracay when the world-famous island resort reopens on October 26.
Año explained the government came up with the number based on the carrying capacity of the island given its number of workers and the local population.
He noted that based on initial reports, the carrying capacity of Boracay Island is 55,000 inclusive of the workers and tourists.
The six-month closure of the renowned beach destination was done to rehabilitate the island as establishments were compelled to fix their sewerage systems and illegal structures could be dismantled.
Once it opens, Año said festivities and parties like “LaBoracay,” a summer event marking Labor Day would no longer be allowed.
He explained that Labor Day parties cause overpopulation in the island since tourist arrivals spike to around 40,000 to 50,000.
This results in over 100,000 people staying on the island at a time – nearly double Boracay’s carrying capacity.
He noted that the grand plan for Boracay island is to turn it anew to an ideal tourist spot where serenity, peace, and cleanliness will be its selling points.
The DILG chief said smoking and drinking along the white beach of Boracay will no longer be allowed.
Around 3,000 to 5,000 hotel rooms from compliant accommodation establishments will be made available to Boracay island patrons when it reopens.
Before the island’s re-opening, 68 accommodation establishments have already completed the requirements with the tourism, interior and local government, and environment departments.
The Boracay inter-agency task force (BIATF) said those were the only ones allowed to operate, according to the Boracay inter-agency task force (BIATF).
Besides these hotels and resorts, other compliant establishments will also be allowed to operate during the dry run.
However, critics chided the government for the unfinished road works and excavations that make it difficult for tourists to navigate to the main island beach resort.
The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) in the region vowed to fully complete the project within the prescribed period.
Other routes will be used for tourists to navigate while the roads are being constructed.
DPWH Undersecretary Robert Bernardo explained the department is faced with challenges as the rehabilitation and improvement works started only on June 29, 2018.
He said the first two months were dedicated to demolition and clearing of the 12-meter road-right-of-way (RROW).
Bernardo said that the DPWH had to deal with the presence of existing sewer and water lines within the RROW as the installation of new sewer and water lines were done simultaneously with the civil works.
“The relocation of electric and TELCO poles/lines only started September 6, 2018. Related works again simultaneous with the project (Boracay water/Boracay Tubi works),’’ Bernardo said.
Bernardo added that drainage lines could not be installed continuously as 60 percent of the contract time was marred by heavy rains.
Boracay Island has been closed since April 26 after various environmental violations were unearthed, turning the once pristine tourist destination into a cesspool, according to President Duterte.