BORACAY’S GOLDEN SUNSET is another attraction in the world-famous island resort. Unchecked environmental degradation, however, could scare tourists away. GUIJO DUEÑAS/PN

BACOLOD City – The six-month closure of the world-famous Boracay Island is good news for this capital city, according to City Tourism Officer Ma. Elma Gerasmo.

Gerasmo noted that last year, Bacolod came in second with the most number of foreign tourist arrivals in Western Visayas.

Boracay got the top spot with 898,914 foreign arrivals while Bacolod, 69,337, Gersamo said, citing records from the Department of Tourism Region 6.

Bacolod is the entry point of different attractions in Negros Occidental, which explains the influx of tourists, she stressed.

Gerasmo added that big conferences were also held in the city last year.

For her part, Councilor Em Ang, chairwoman of the Sangguniang Panlungsod committee on tourism, said Boracay’s closure will have a “great effect” in the tourism industry not only in Region 6 but also the entire country.

“With more than 500 tourism-related businesses that drew over P53-billion revenue in 2017, most definitely the closure will have very serious negative impact to the country. Worse, even after the closure, there is no assurance that businesses will be back,” Ang told Panay News.

Ang also expressed her worries over Bacolodnon workers who will be displaced once the famed beach destination closes.

Meanwhile, the Iloilo City government and the provincial government of Guimaras are getting ready to become alternative destinations when Boracay shuts down.

The capital of Iloilo province and the nearby island province are drawing up plans – including new tour offers, improved visitor services and spruced-up sites – to attract Boracay-bound tourists.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier this month approved the recommendation to shut Boracay down for six months beginning April 26 to pave way for a much-needed island rehabilitation./PN

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