Travel and Tourism

Boracay resort owners react to planned shutdown

Deni Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo - Philstar.com
Boracay resort owners react to planned shutdown

Sunset in Boracay, one of the Philippines' top tourist destinations and listed in Conde Nast Traveler as "the best island in the world" in 2016 and 2017.

MANILA, Philippines — Resort owners of one of the Philippines’ top tourist spots, Boracay, have mixed reactions on the recommendation to shut down the island for six months beginning April 26 for rehabilitation.

“We actually agree that Boracay should be cleaned up and I think it’s going to be great once it reopens,” Hannah Yulo, DoubleDragon’s chief investment officer, told Philstar.com in an interview during the recent announcement of hotel chain Hotel 101’s branching out in Boracay, Bohol, Davao and Bonifacio Global City.

Their Boracay project, she said, will be a “green” hotel with its own solar power, rain water harvesting system and sewage treatment plant.

“We will make sure that we will comply with all the standards of a green hotel. We’re very excited to be in Boracay. That’s opening in 2020 as well. That’s 1,001 rooms,” she shared. “As much as possible, we will try to be ecologically-sustainable.”

She assured that there will be no delays in their construction plans due to the shutdown. She thinks that the closure is actually timely for them, since they are yet to build the hotel and is still in the process of finalizing permits.

Hotel 101 is the flagship homegrown brand of Hotel of Asia Inc., a subsidiary of publicly listed real estate firm DoubleDragon Properties Corp., led by its chairman, Edgar “Injap” Sia II.

On the other hand, another resort owner, who requested to anonymity, vetoes the planned Boracay closure due to the following:

  • Many workers will be displaced, including senior citizens.
  • The cleanup can be done by phases without closing the entire island.
  • The island’s drainage takes years to rehabilitate, not only months, so closing the island for six months will not be enough and will just kill small businesses and livelihoods.
  • Boracay’s wetlands and forests lost to businesses include the location of the present D’Mall, a famous restaurant and hotel hub in the island, with hundreds of employees who will be affected if the island is to shut down.

Boracay real estate value to go up after cleanup

For some, the temporary closure might entail loses, but will be more beneficial in the long run.

For Yasushi Yamada, chief operating officer of real estate brokerage firm List Sotheby’s International Realty, Boracay’s real estate value will appreciate if it will be closed for rehabilitation.

As the Philippines’ economy continues to boom, this year is a good one in terms of property investing, even in Boracay, said Yamada.

He told Philstar.com in an interview that the real estate market in the Philippines “is one of the most diverse in the world” with “so many categories and kinds of properties,” ranging from condominiums to mansions, buildings and islands like Boracay.

Surprisingly, condos are not the bestsellers in List Sotheby’s portfolio but islands such as Bora, because these attract foreign investors especially in the hotel and other commercial industries, explained Yamada.

“Real estate in the Philippines is very affordable as compared to others,” he enthused. “In Singapore, a penthouse condo costs US $100 million, which is already the cost of an island in the Philippines.”

Although Boracay is still “an area of development” due to its environmental problems, Yamada said properties in Boracay command a price tantamount to the central business districts of Makati and Taguig cities.

Once restored to its pristine condition, he believes the island-paradise’s cleaner view and ambience will add up to its real estate appraisal.




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