THE DEPARTMENT of Tourism (DoT) will not make any changes to the processing of business permits in Boracay amid concerns that tighter rules caused delays in their reaccreditation.
DoT spokesperson Benito C. Bengzon, Jr. on Friday said the government is simply ensuring the island does not experience any more problems after it is opened to tourists again.
“When [these businesses] said that the rules are too severe, it’s their opinion. The most important thing they have to keep in mind that it was closed because of a problem. We want it to be a better Boracay,” he said.
“People have to understand that we’re coming up with all these guidelines to ensure we can avoid the problems of the past. When it opens, what we want to offer is a high-value kind of tourism experience,” Mr. Bengzon explained.
The DoT is the last government agency to assess the qualifications of an establishment to continue business in Boracay after it is cleared by the local government unit and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
If the establishment is found compliant with the local ordinances and the DENR’s guidelines, “[o]nly then we will determine who are compliant and more important, how many rooms will be eventually open by Oct. 26,” Mr. Bengzon said.
A limit to the number of tourists to be allowed to enter the island at a time will be based on the study on the carrying capacity of the island, he said. Likewise, both DENR and the Department of Interior and Local Government will be in charge of limiting the entry of tourists.
The government will conduct a dry run of the reopening of Boracay island starting Oct. 15 to ease the island into reaching full operations by Oct. 26. On Oct. 15, the first 1,000 rooms will be open to local tourists, with Aklan natives as the priority during the pre-opening.
The DoT will be in charge or scheduling and choosing accredited establishments for the dry run.
When asked about proposed policies that will prohibit parties and other recreational activities which might dirty the island’s beaches, Mr. Bengzon said DoT is in favor of such rules.
“We have to maintain the serenity of the shoreline which is really the centerpiece,” he said. — A.G.A. Mogato