BORACAY will need to reduce its resident workforce because resort workers will outnumber tourists by nearly two-to-one if the island’s carrying capacity limits are observed, Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu said Wednesday.
Citing a study conducted by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Boracay has a carrying capacity of 54,945 people per day, including 19,215 visitors, and 35,730 non-tourists.
“We are within the carrying capacity of 19,200 tourists with the arrival of 6,000 tourists a day. But non-tourists are over the limit,” Mr. Cimatu told reporters at a recess in the DENR’s budget hearing at the Senate.
He proposed dormitories on Panay island for resort workers to reduce the island’s resident worker population.
“We’re looking at the possibility also that the hotel owners will subsidize the accommodation of their own workers. This is similar to what they are doing in Middle East where the workers (are) the responsibility of employers who need to shoulder the cost of their accommodation,” according to Mr. Cimatu.
“My policy is not to demolish any sites if the workers have nowhere to go,” Mr. Cimatu said.
He said a short-term solution is to house workers in unoccupied parts of resorts.
“In the long-term we have to bring out the workers, and we are making it easy for them now that we have plans to transport them (including) a special pier for their use in Caticlan. When they reach the island they will also have a special pier to ensure there is no congestion,” according to Mr. Cimatu.
He said that he will hold discussions with stakeholders on Sept. 28 to finalize the details of the plan.
Boracay will have a dry run between Oct. 15 and 25, with a soft opening scheduled for Oct. 26, which marks the six-month milestone after the island was shut down for a cleanup in April.
During the dry run, only 1,000 hotel rooms will be made available on the first day, an additional 1,000 on the second day, and another 1,000 on the third day. Mr. Cimatu said that the island will be open to visitors with priority given to residents of Aklan.
Of 2,300 establishments on Boracay, only 180 have been ruled fully compliant with environmental rules, including access to a wastewater treatment plant. — Reicelene Joy N. Ignacio