DOT: No set date on Boracay reopening, task force hopes for Oct. 26
By Joyce Ann L. Rocamora
MANILA (Philippines News Agency) — Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat is deferring details on Boracay’s reopening to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), but shared hopes the inauguration of the rehabilitated island will push through on its expected opening day, October 26.
“The one that will officially say that Boracay will be reopened is Secretary Roy Cimatu because he is the head of the task force of the rehabilitation of Boracay,” she told reporters in Makati.
“Provided that we get his go signal and that all environmental laws are complied with, we are hoping that Boracay will be opened on October 26.”
The task force as it fixes the drainage system in the island has discovered “a lot of illegal pipes,” said Romulo-Puyat. “(Secretary Cimatu) has been enforcing that these illegal pipes be removed.”
To date, the interagency group is solving the island’s easement problem, and among others, the construction of roads.
“I’ve already talked to the DPWH (Department of Public Works and Highways), they have been building the roads, so the infrastructure is there. It will be on time, again, provided that, of course, Secretary Cimatu would be the best person to say, environmental laws are complied with, Boracay will be opened.”
Boracay was closed last April 26 to fix its sewage and address numerous environment-related problems. June 26 will mark the second month of the rehabilitation.
Hoping for a change of mind
Last May, European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines President Guenter Taus said the closure of the island made it “hard to sell” the Philippines as a tourism destination in Europe.
Romulo-Puyat, on the other hand, is hopeful that the Europeans will change their minds once the country’s top tourist draw concluded its rehabilitation.
“We hope that when, again I am hoping, when it is decided Boracay will be opened October 26, the Europeans will take a second look because we are now complying with all the environmental laws.”
Taus had said European tour operators are now hesitant to “touch the Philippines” after having a hard time refunding their canceled bookings. He said the tour operators are “scared” that similar move from the government would happen to any Philippine islands.
Meanwhile, Romulo-Puyat eased this concern saying the private sectors themselves are exerting effort to avoid similar instances on their respective island destinations, such as Cebu.
On the issues of the tour operators, she assured these will be discussed during consultations.
“We will be discussing that. I don’t want to say anything first, but we are in close contact with our private stakeholders.” (PNA)