DILG greenlights Oct. 26 reopening of Boracay

Cecille Suerte Felipe - The Philippine Star
DILG greenlights Oct. 26 reopening of Boracay
Interior Undersecretary Epimaco Densing III said rehabilitation continues on the island after President Duterte ordered its closure on April 26 to give way to massive rehabilitation of the “cesspool.”
Walter Bollozos

MANILA, Philippines — The target reopening of Boracay Island on Oct. 26 is a go, an official of the Department of the Interior and Local Government said yesterday.

Interior Undersecretary Epimaco Densing III said rehabilitation continues on the island after President Duterte ordered its closure on April 26 to give way to massive rehabilitation of the “cesspool.”

In a radio interview, Densing noted significant improvement in the quality of the water around the island.Two weeks ago, he said, the brown and stinking water on Bulabog beach was already “bluish” and with no unpleasant smell.

“Oct. 26 is a go based on (Environment) Secretary Roy Cimatu na madalas sa (who is always in) Boracay,” he noted.

Densing said demolition activities in some structures that violated environment rules like building hotel in prohibited areas are about 65-percent complete.

“In West Cove, I know in the next Senate hearing on environment, the owner is being subpoenaed to answer why there is a structure in a no-build zone,” he said.

“At present, the demolition, which is very sensitive as it is adjacent to the mountain, is already 65 percent. It will worsen the damage if it is continued,” he added.

Boracay remains peaceful with no significant incident since its closure. The Metro Boracay Police Task Force (MBPTF) is the key player in the security cluster on the implementation of the closure and the massive rehabilitation of island, which was closed down to foreign and local tourists.

The projected rise of crimes claimed by critics before the closure has been controlled due to responsive police interventions and strategies undertaken by the MBPTF in cooperation with the other government agencies, other stakeholders and the community.

UK, Ireland tourist arrivals up

Meanwhile, tourist arrivals from the United Kingdom and Ireland increased from January to May despite Boracay’s temporary closure, according to the Philippine embassy in London.

Citing a report from the Department of Tourism (DOT), tourist arrivals from the UK and Ireland are up by around nine percent and 6.4 percent, respectively, from January to May versus the same period last year.

Around 90,000 British tourists arrived in the Philippines for the first five months of this year, while around 8,000 came from Ireland.

The UK registered the highest number of tourist arrivals to the Philippines within the European region. Worldwide, it is the eighth largest tourism market after South Korea, China, the United States, Japan, Australia, Canada and Taiwan.

“We implemented high-impact consumer activations and digital marketing campaigns to draw British travelers to the Philippines especially for the winter holidays, and to expand our overall market reach in UK,” Philippine Tourism Attaché for Northern and Southern Europe Gerardo Panga said.

Strong partnerships with major British tour operators and airlines, as well as the Philippines’ vast network of media partners and travel influencers, are key in igniting interest in the Philippines as a travel destination in Southeast Asia. These two factors, he said, account for the sustained increase in British tourist arrivals to the Philippines in the past few years.

Apart from Manila and Boracay, Palawan, Cebu, Bohol, Banaue, Anilao, Puerto Galera, Dumaguete, Siquijor, Siargao, Bicol, and various regions in northern Philippines are among the top destinations of British travelers. – With Pia Lee-Brago

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