âShortened Boracay closure not prompted by Miss Universe plansâ
Miss Universe bets enjoy the white beaches of Boracay.

‘Shortened Boracay closure not prompted by Miss Universe plans’

Emmanuel Tupas, Catherine Talavera (The Philippine Star) - April 15, 2018 - 12:01am

MANILA, Philippines — The government’s decision to shorten the closure of Boracay to four months has nothing to do with the possible conduct of the Miss Universe pageant in the island resort.

Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo yesterday clarified that the primary reason why the Department of Tourism (DOT) is aiming for a shorter period is to alleviate the effects of the closure on the workers and residents of Boracay.

“I just wanted it done fast,” she told reporters.

Teo also explained that she pushed for a total closure of Boracay so that the rehabilitation can be done on the entire island because the process would take longer if the closure is partial.

Several volunteers from private groups are willing to help in the cleanup of Boracay. The ideal scenario is to have 100 volunteers doing cleanup work on the island every Saturday.

Teo said that while the DOT is working to have the Miss Universe pageant held in the Philippines this year, the department is also looking at the possibility of hosting the event in 2019.

“We are working if it can be done but China had also bid, so it’s still not sure. If not, probably next year,” she said.

Teo said pageant organizers were impressed with the country’s hosting in 2016 that they want the event to be held in the Philippines again. If the Philippines wins the bidding, Boracay will likely be the venue for the swimsuit event while the coronation event will be held in Metro Manila.

President Duterte ordered the closure of Boracay on April 26, following the recommendation of the interagency taskforce composed of the DOT, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Department of the Interior and Local Government.

In a government podcast last week, Teo said the President talked about the possibility of holding the Miss Universe pageant in Boracay during the last Cabinet meeting.

Teo said this was prompted by a question by Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, who said the DOT might find it difficult to promote Boracay again after the closure.

Teo said Duterte suggested that the country should bring the Miss Universe pageant to the island once it is reopened.

The Philippines hosted the 2016 Miss Universe pageant.

The DOT is also not revising its foreign arrivals target of 7.4 million this year despite the closure of Boracay.

“The target will be the same. We will work on it,” Teo told reporters.

Under the National Tourism Development Plan, the DOT is expecting foreign arrivals to hit 7.4 million this year, higher than the 6.62 million tourists registered last year.

In a press conference Saturday, Teo reported that some of the tourists bound for Boracay have already rebooked their flights to other destinations in the country, with Cebu accounting for a large chunk of the diverted flights.

Teo stressed that Boracay is not the only destination attracting a large volume of foreign tourists, as Cebu registered a larger share of foreign visitors last year.

Based on visitor figures reported by Teo, Boracay only attracted close to a million foreign tourists last year, while Cebu got roughly over 2 million foreign tourists.

Korea was the top source market for foreign arrivals with a total of 895,776 tourists. This was followed by China, which posted the highest growth rate among top foreign markets with 429,306.

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