Limit to number of tourist arrivals pushed

By: Inquirer.net February 15,2018 - 10:13 PM

Visitors all over the globe enjoy the trademark sunset of Boracay summer /Inquirer file photo

Boracay envi woes

ILOILO CITY – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has challenged the local government units governing Boracay Island to pass an ordinance to limit the influx of tourists on the island to help address the environmental problems on the island.

“It is within their powers and mandate to do so. They can also regulate the kind of businesses on the island,” Jim Sampulna, DENR Western Visayas director, told the INQUIRER.

Sampulna said the local government should also pass and implement ordinances requiring workers of construction companies to return to the mainland in Barangay Caticlan in Malay town after working hours to minimize the need for boarding house and temporary housing facilities.

Business establishments on the island should also provide staff houses on the mainland for the bulk of the employees, according to Sampulna.

The influx of tourists on Boracay Island can be regulated if only the local government will pass an ordinance setting limits that can be accommodated on the island, an official of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources said on Thursday.

Environment Undersecretary Jonas Leones earlier said that the DENR is considering a proposal to limit the number of tourists on the 1,032-hectare island.

Tourist arrivals on the island have exponentially grown from 428,755 in 2004 to 2,001,974 in 2017 or almost a five-fold increase in 13 years.

Hotels and resorts have also significantly increased due to the tourism boom reaching about 450 and with 13,000 rooms. The number is expected to increase to around 15,000 rooms with the completion of new hotels undergoing construction.

Nenette Aguirre-Graf, president of the Boracay Foundation Inc., said regulating the number of tourists could be implemented if government agencies would enforce it.

Officials governing Boracay Island also welcomed an investigation for possible liabilities on the environmental degradation of Boracay.

The President has earlier threatened to file charges against local officials for Boracay’s environmental problems.

On Thursday, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said the agency has launched an investigation to determine possible liabilities of the officials.

Mayor Ciceron Cawaling of Malay town and Aklan Gov. Florencio Miraflores have not replied to calls and text from the INQUIRER.

But speaking for Cawaling, Rowen Aguirre, former Malay councilor and now executive assistant for Boracay concerns, said facing charges is part of their jobs as officials.

“For our part, we have done our jobs but we know that they are problems that should be addressed,” Aguirre said.

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TAGS: arrivals, limit, number of tourist, pushed

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