THE WESTERN Visayas office of the Department of Tourism (DoT-6) disagrees with its National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) counterpart in the assessment that regional growth would be severely affected by the six-month closure of Boracay to tourists.
“The NEDA-6 statement reveals a very narrow and shallow view of the Western Visayas region as a solely Boracay tourism-dependent region, when in fact it is a multi-destination region,” lawyer Helen J. Catalbas DoT-6 regional director, said in an interview.
In a press conference on the day of the island’s closure last April 26, NEDA-6 Regional Director Ro-Ann A. Bacal said the temporary shutdown will greatly affect the region’s economic performance.
“At the national level, the effect is insignificant because visitors, especially the local ones who could be very flexible with their travel, would just go to other places and spend there. Basically, it is a loss for Region 6,” Ms. Bacal said.
Ms. Catalbas, on the other hand, pointed out that there are other municipalities, cities, and provinces in the region that attract visitors and could make up for or mitigate the impact of Boracay’s closure
The DoT official said the NEDA-6 data indicating that Boracay contributes to 30.2% of the country’s foreign tourist arrivals in 2017 is incorrect.
DoT records show that 6.6 million foreigners visited the country in 2017, with Boracay accounting for 986,920.
The other popular destinations in the region include Iloilo and Bacolod cities, Negros Occidental, and the provinces of Iloilo, Capiz, Guimaras, and Antique.
Ms. Catalbas said the statement of the NEDA-6 head is “irresponsible” as well as “insults” the other sectors in the region which have significant economic contributions such as housing and construction, energy, services, export, remittances from overseas Filipino Workers, and business process outsourcing.
“The statement of NEDA Region 6 is irresponsible. It does not have a leg to stand on that it will result in the decreasing GDP (gross domestic product),” she said.
The added that such statements undermine investor confidence.
“Let us not undermine the efforts of the national government in saving Boracay by making an irresponsible pronouncement that is giving wrong signals and betrays the real intention of providing a better life for the people of Malay, province of Aklan, and the whole of Western Visayas,” she said. — Louine Hope U. Conserva