President Rodrigo Duterte’s urgent call to pass a law creating a Boracay Island Development Authority is a solid declaration of the government’s commitment to sustainable and responsible tourism, said Department of Tourism (DOT) chief Bernadette Romulo-Puyat.
Puyat made the comment after the President called on Congress to pass a law creating the Boracay Island Development Authority (BIDA) to oversee the island’s environmental sustainability in his 5th State of the Nation Address (SONA).
“We have seen the remarkable reemergence of the Island back to its former glory. I want this sustained. I ask Congress to enact a law creating — importante ito — the Boracay Island [Development] Authority or BIDA. We need it,” Duterte said in his SONA on Monday.
It was Representative Claudine Diana Bautista of DUMPLER PTDA party-list who filed House Bill No. 6285 last February proposing the BIDA national office, which will serve as an attached agency of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
“Boracay Island’s 6-month closure at the height of the tourist season that started in May 2018 gave unparalleled attention and priority to the welfare of tourists, business stakeholders, and host communities from the ill effects of over tourism and environmental destruction,” Puyat said, noting that the rehabilitation also poured unprecedented investment in infrastructure such as roads, sewerage, drainage, and solid waste management systems.
“The success of the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force (BIATF) undoubtedly needs to be sustained and its gains can be continued with the management framework presented by a legislated and institutionalized Boracay Island Authority. Such framework embraces the tried and tested collaborative inter-agency approach of the BIATF employed in the management of Boracay that is a rare gem in Philippine tourism truly worth sustaining,” she added.
The tourism chief also emphasized that the tourism department had actively contributed to the position of the BIATF in relation to Senate Bill No. 17 or the Act Creating the Boracay Development Authority authored by Senator Franklin Drilon, which remains pending in the Senate.
She said beyond Boracay, the department believes a similar arrangement must also be considered in managing other tourism areas in the Philippines.