ILOILO CITY - The Department of Tourism in Region 6 is looking forward to see Boracay Island as a “premium destination” after its rehabilitation.
“I envision Boracay to be a premium destination after it is closed, and then rehabilitated and opened big time to the world tourism community. It is going to be a destination that has the class that the world expects from the best island in the world,” DOT 6 director Helen Catalbas said.
She said it will not have an image as a “cheap destination” that sometimes “eclipses the world-class facilities of the island”.
A monitoring of accommodation booking from Feb. 12 until March 15 this year by the Boracay Field Office of DOT 6 revealed that only 16 hotels/resorts had reported cancellations. These are mostly small or those with less than 50 rooms and most were not accredited.
The cancellations involved 81 rooms with 254 estimated guests.
However, based on initial findings, the cancellations were “insignificant and may not be related to the pronouncement of the President”.
As of March 15, no cancellation of flights at the Kalibo and Caticlan airports, and trips and arrival of roll on–roll off vessels had been reported.
The Kalibo International Airport is connected to at least 10 international airports in mainland China, aside from its domestic flight accommodations.
Nonetheless, Catalbas said that while waiting for the action of President Rodrigo Duterte, DOT 6 and tourism officers of local government units are fast-tracking the development of new itineraries in other parts of Western Visayas.
There are also talks on skills and facilities upgrading, job fairs for establishments and employees, while the island is being rehabilitated.
Catalbas said they could not yet determine how many percent of the 19,031 recorded workers in Boracay in 2017 would be displaced once the closure proceeds.
Yet she said that with government intervention, such as job fairs and upgrading of skills, displaced workers would be able to find “lasting and gainful employment”. She said that some of them are contractual workers rehired after six months.
The Department of Labor and Employment, in a press statement, said it is ready to assist would-be displaced workers through its package of services, such as job facilitation, livelihood and emergency employment, and skills upgrading and retooling, together with the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority.
DOLE regional director Johnson Cañete said two job fairs have been slated on April 26 and June 15 in Kalibo and Malay, respectively.
The Boracay Industry Tripartite Council also agreed that would-be displaced workers would be hired by their members who are not affected by the closure.
Catalbas, in the meantime, could not tell how much income would be lost. Data showed that in 2017, tourism receipts in Boracay reached P56 billion from the 2,001,974 tourists who visited the island.
Boracay last year contributed 34 percent of the total tourist arrivals of Western Visayas and almost one million to six million foreign tourists in the country.
“Sustainability development goes beyond the monetary side. That is for the long term,” Catalbas said.
She said Boracay is “bursting at the seams” and without any “drastic move”, it would “not last for 10 years”.*PNA
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