DOT, NEDA CLASH

Boracay projection undermines investor confidence?

REGULATED SWIMMING. Only residents of Boracay are allowed to swim in its waters – and only in this area at Station 1 in the vicinity of the famous Willy’s Rock (not shown in photo). These colored balls mark the spot to guide the swimmers. Boracay has been closed to tourism activities for a much needed six-month rehabilition. IAN PAUL CORDERO/PN

ILOILO City – The Department of Tourism (DOT) in Western Visayas has accused the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) of undermining investor confidence in the region’s tourism industry.

NEDA Region 6’s simulation showed the six-month closure of Boracay would slow down Western Visayas’ Gross Regional Domestic Product (GRDP) by 5.07 percent to 5.23 percent.

“Irresponsible” was how DOT regional director Helen Catalbas described NEDA’s disclosure.

“It undermines investor confidence in the tourism sector not only in Boracay but more importantly in other municipalities, cities and provinces with huge tourism potentials,” she said.

According to NEDA, the decline in tourist arrivals in Boracay would lead to an increase in tourism activities in Luzon, other parts of the Visayas and Mindanao.

Catalbas viewed this as an insult to other tourism destinations in Western Visayas which she said have the capacity to cushion the negative impacts of Boracay’s closure.

The province of Negros Occidental, Bacolod City and Iloilo City only need to produce an additional 200,000 tourists plus 400,000 from Iloilo, Capiz, mainland Aklan, Guimaras and Antique to offset tourist arrival loses due to Boracay’s shutdown, said Catalbas.

The DOT-6 chief also said Iloilo City and Bacolod City remain attractive venues for huge conventions.

“It cannot be overemphasized that Negros Occidental and Bacolod City came a close second to Boracay as the most popular tourist destination in Western Visayas in 2017. The tourism absorptive capacity of this duo is still comfortable and they are expected to have higher yield tourism-wise this year,” said Catalbas.

Other economic sectors in the region – such as housing and construction, energy, services, export, overseas Filipino workers’ remittances and business process outsourcing  industry – could also offset the adverse effects of Boracay’s closure to Western Visayas’ economy, stressed Catalbas.

Citing latest available data from DOT, NEDA said Boracay’s closure would immediately affect 430 accommodation establishments in the island.

In the area of employment, NEDA said Boracay’s closure would affect between 147,476 to 152,391 individuals in the region.

Boracay accounted for 68 percent of the total employment in the region, according to NEDA.

The temporary closure would also lower household income in Western Visayas (P14.291 million to P14.767.4 million), it added./PN

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