Caticlan airport operator cheers Boracay rehab, but calls for long-term solution
One of the biggest commercial stakeholders in the tourism industry of Boracay cheered the government’s decision to close it down for a six-month cleanup, but said that a long-term solution is needed to ensure the sustainability of the world-famous resort island.
In a statement, San Miguel Corp. president Ramon Ang said he supports government’s initiative to regenerate the island and eventually transform it into a sustainable tourist destination.
San Miguel is the country’s largest conglomerate by assets, and operates the Boracay Airport in Caticlan, where flights by carriers like Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific are expected to slow to a trickle during the April-October shutdown. It is currently upgrading the airport’s facilities by extending the runway and building a new passenger terminal to accommodate international flights.
“Addressing long-standing problems with sewage and solid waste brought about by rapid growth of tourism, commerce and unfettered development now, is critical to ensuring Boracay’s long-term sustainability,” Ang said.
“The island needs to be rehabilitated and we have to support the government,” he said. “Yes, we will endure some short-term pain but it’s a step in the right direction and in end we are hopeful it would bring about long-term gain for all.”
To ensure that Boracay will continue to thrive, however, the San Miguel chief reiterated his proposal for the construction of a 2-kilometer toll bridge that would connect the resort island to Aklan – a scheme meant to decongest Boracay by giving both tourists and resort industry workers greater incentive to live on the mainland.
In proposing this, Ang said government, businesses, developers, and its residents, must look beyond the island and move to disperse tourism to nearby municipalities such as Caticlan and Nabas.
This, he said, would result in higher tourism revenues for the whole of Aklan province, more jobs for locals, and increased competitiveness of the Philippines as a tourist destination.
If the Caticlan-Boracay bridge is built – at the conglomerate’s expense – it would reduce the need for tourists and tourism workers to stay in the island.
“Tourists and visitors will have the option to go to Boracay during the day and in the afternoon or at night for accommodations outside the island,” Ang said, adding that developers will also be able to build hotels and resorts on the mainland.
Ang said the construction of a bridge could also help mitigate Boracay’s environmental problems as pipes can be built into the bridge to remove sewage, fresh water can be piped in from the mainland, and solid waste can be trucked off the island. /kga
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.