No drop in tourist arrivals on Boracay despite closure plan
ILOILO CITY—There has been no marked decline in tourist arrivals on Boracay Island despite the looming closure of the world famous destination.
But arrivals were expected to drop next month as cancellations of bookings had increased.
Tourist arrivals for the first two months of this year reached 375,993, higher than the 344,026 recorded in the same period in 2017, based on data from the Malay municipal tourism office.
From March 1 to 27 this year, tourist arrivals reached 140,643. This could still surpass the 167,445 tourists recorded for the whole of the month last year as more tourists were expected to arrive on the island for the long Holy Week break.
“It’s still business as usual but front liners, including tour coordinators and drivers of tourist vehicles, said they were observing a decline in tourists,” according to a source from the island’s tourism industry who asked not to be named due to the sensitivity of the issue.
The source said the drop in tourist arrivals would be most likely felt next month because of the proposal of an inter-agency task force to close down the island to tourists starting April 26 and for a period six months.
Officials of the task force earlier said the temporary closure was necessary to demolish and remove illegal structures, construct or repair essential infrastructure, including the drainage and sewerage systems, and other rehabilitation efforts.
“Bookings of private corporations for team-building activities and other events, conferences and meetings have already been canceled because the organizers do not want their plans compromised when a closure order is issued.
The inter-agency task force, composed of the Departments of Environment and Natural Resources, Tourism, and Interior and Local Government, was preparing for the temporary closure even if the President had not yet approved its recommendation.
Interior Assistant Secretary Epimaco Densing said once the closure is ordered, no local and foreign tourists would be allowed on the island.
Tourists would be stopped at the Caticlan port on the mainland of Malay, he said.
More details of the enforcement of the closure would be released once the President approves the recommendation of the task force, he said.
The recommendation for the closure of the island is expected to be tackled in the April 5 meeting of the Cabinet.
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