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Increase in Boracay crowds up to experts –DOT

Romina Cabrera, Ralph Edwin Villanueva - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Tourism (DOT) is leaving it up to experts on whether or not to increase the tourist carrying capacity of Boracay.

“The carrying capacity was set in a study by the University of the Philippines, which was commissioned by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. It is not about lobbying, it is about studies, if indeed it can be increased,” DOT Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat told a press briefing yesterday. “We will rely on experts… We will listen to third party experts. If they tell us that it can be increased, it can be.”

The DOT expressed alarm as the crowds on the island reached over 22,000 during Holy Week. Only 19,215 people per day are allowed.

Puyat noted that the carrying capacity of Boracay was never breached even before the COVID pandemic hit.

“We have to take into consideration the health and safety (of tourists). Even tourists do not want to go to a place that is overcrowded,” she said.

As this developed, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) issued a warning to Aklan Gov. Florencio Miraflores and Malay acting Mayor Frolibar Bautista over the breach in the number of visitors.

Bautista had earlier admitted that tourist arrivals were not monitored or controlled.

DILG Undersecretary Epimaco Densing said the two local officials were asked to ensure that the carrying capacity of the island is strictly enforced for the safety of tourists as well as the protection of the environment.

Densing said the local officals can be administratively held liable in case of another breach.

“Kapag lumampas ito at talagang whether negligence nila o sinadya, sila po ay padadalhan natin ng sulat para magpaliwanag,“ Densing said during the Laging Handa press briefing.

He said the tourist cap would be maintained for the time being, but will be subject to review every three to five years.

BORACAY

DEPARTMENT OF TOURISM

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