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Pernia sees P1.96-billion revenue loss in Boracay shutdown

Mary Grace Padin - The Philippine Star
Pernia sees P1.96-billion revenue loss in Boracay shutdown
GOODBYE TO ALL THAT: Tourists enjoy the white sand of Boracay yesterday ahead of its closure. President Duterte ordered the island closed to tourists for up to six months from April 26. Inset shows locals using green algae scooped up from the beach to form a message.
Walter Bollozos

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine economy might lose around P1.96 billion due to the closure of Boracay Island, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said yesterday.

During a press briefing with the Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC), Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said the closure of Boracay would lead to a reduction in gross domestic product (GDP) amounting to P980 million per quarter.

Earlier, NEDA said the six-month closure of Boracay would decrease GDP growth by 0.1 percentage point.

By region, Pernia said Region 6 would be hit the hardest, and would likely get a trimming of 5.7 percentage points in terms of economic growth.

However, the NEDA chief said other regions in the Visayas, as well as Luzon and Mindanao, will benefit from the closure as tourists might transfer to alternative destinations.

Economic managers yesterday maintained their growth assumption for 2018 at seven to eight percent despite the situation in Boracay.

“It’s really a temporary shortfall in terms of tourism and tourism income. We are maintaining our growth rate,” Pernia said.

“We don’t want to be seen as retreating from our targets. We are going to work harder. The DOT (Department of Tourism) should really step up its efforts to attract more people to more destinations, as well as advertise these other destinations,” he added.

President Duterte earlier approved the six-month closure of Boracay effective April 26 to allow the rehabilitation of the island.

Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu yesterday said the existing Boracay Master Plan will be reviewed and updated during the six-month closure to incorporate developments that would also cover nearby islands to boost tourism revenues in the Northern Aklan region.   

Boracay Island will be closed for six months beginning tomorrow to give way to rehabilitation activities, including the demolition of structures situated in the wetlands. 

Cimatu said careful consideration for the island’s original inhabitants, the Atis, will also be implemented during the rehabilitation phase so the indigenous people would not be left out in development.

Cimatu assured everyone that a cleaner and livelier Boracay Island will unfold once the work has been completed.

“Healing Boracay from the grudges of unbridled tourism is a must so future generations will still be able to experience its beauty,” he added.

Assistance

Some 120 workers affected by the impending closure of Boracay received travel assistance last Monday from the government so they could return to their home provinces, according to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

The DSWD said P170,600 was released as part of the assistance program of the government for workers displaced by the closure order.

Among those who received the transportation assistance were migrant workers of hotels and resorts in Boracay who are expected to leave the island within the week. 

Officer-in-charge Emmanuel Leyco said the agency is now implementing its various plans for affected residents, including a cash-for-work program.

He added that the program would be implemented as soon as the state of calamity is declared in the popular tourist destination.

Leyco said they will increase the rate of their cash-for-work program in Boracay from 75 percent of the regional minimum wage to 100 percent, which is P323.

The fear of uncertainty has started to grip residents and workers who would lose their livelihood for six months or more.

An e-tricycle driver identified as Rodrigo said that while he has been preparing for the imminent closure of the island, things would be different when the shutdown happens.

“I worked in Saudi Arabia before. I’m a skilled worker. Hopefully, I would get a job soon. But we’re still looking forward for the reopening of the island at the soonest time possible,” he added.

Rodrigo said he saved money when the closure of the island was announced but his money might not last for six months.

Coast Guard security

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) would secure Boracay’s surrounding waters once the island is closed to outsiders and authorities would designate exclusive swimming areas for local residents. 

PCG spokesman Captain Armand Balilo said patrol boats would guard the area three kilometers from shoreline to block any attempt by outsiders, local and foreign tourists, to sneak into Boracay during the cleanup period. 

The PCG would also be assisting in the “one entry, one exit” policy on the island and help in the screening people entering and leaving the island.

The PCG station in Caticlan headed by Lt. Cmdr. Ramil Palabrica would also be on the lookout for those intending to hold protest against the closure of Boracay. 

Balilo said that swimming would only be permitted at Station One. They would be installing buoy markers and only local residents would be allowed to swim. 

Environmentalists yesterday held a picket at the DENR office in Quezon City to protest the impending closure of Boracay Island that would displace thousands of workers. 

Leon Dulce, coordinator of the The Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (PNE), said the arbitrary six-month closure had no comprehensive scientific rehabilitation plan and will displace thousands of workers in the process. – With Rhodina Villanueva, Janvic Mateo, Delon Porcalla, Alexis Romero, Catherine Talavera, Louise Maureen Simeon, Paolo Romero, Jennifer Rendon

Related video:

BORACAY ISLAND

NATIONAL ECONOMIC AND DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY

PHILIPPINE ECONOMY

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