Tourists calling off Boracay trips amid closure plans
ILOILO CITY—Tourists are canceling their trips to Boracay Island even before President Duterte ordered the closure of the island based on the recommendation of the an inter-agency task force.
A resort operator on Boracay Island lamented that at least 25 guests in their hotel have canceled their reservations.
The guests were supposed to attend events scheduled during “Laboracay,” the long holiday culminating on Labor Day.
Rowen Aguirre, Malay municipal executive assistant for Boracay affairs, said corporate sponsors have backed out of the event amid the looming shutdown of the island.
Many queries of tourists have also been posted at the Boracay travel forum at the popular travel site TripAdvisor.
An inter-agency task force composed of the Departments of Tourism, Environment and Natural Resources and Interior and Local Government have formally recommended to President Duterte the closure of the island for tourism-related activities for six months starting April 26.
State of emergency
The closure would be preceded by a declaration of state of calamity covering the three villages of the 1,032-hectare island by the President, according to the Department of Tourism (DOT).
Private organizations representing employers and tourism industry workers, as well as local officials, have openly appealed to President Duterte not to order the shutdown of the country’ prime destination.
They also presented 14 measures that they were committed to undertake and implement as part of efforts to address the environmental and other problems of the island.
Aside from business operators and provincial, municipal and village officials, those who signed included organizations of transport operators and drivers, tour guides, manicurists, tricycle drivers, photographers and masseurs.
Aguirre said they would comply with whatever is the decision of the President and the national government.
“We will do what what we can within our capacity, to help the rehabilitation of the island,” Aguirre said.
The looming closure of Boracay will affect tourists including foreign visitors mostly from China and Korea.
The Department of Tourism has ceased marketing the island and are promoting alternative destinations in Western Visayas, according to Tourism regional director Helen Catalbas.
About two million tourists visited Boracay in 2017, comprising 34 percent of the 5.8 million tourist arrivals in Western Visayas, according to data from the DOT regional office.
Employment from Boracay’s tourism industry is at least 19,031, about 68 percent of the total Western Visayas tourism employment.