ILOILO City – Is Boracay ready to welcome tourists back? This is a “million dollar question”, according to an official of the local government of Malay, Aklan which has administrative jurisdiction over the world-famous island resort.
Boracay is scheduled to reopen to tourism activities on Oct. 26. It was closed on April 26 for six months of rehabilitation.
There would be a 10-day dry run prior to the reopening, said Rowen Aguirre, executive assistant of Malay’s Mayor Ciceron Cawaling during the Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (RDRRMC) meeting in the island yesterday.
The dry run from Oct. 15 to 25 would show how ready Boracay is, according to Aguirre.
“That is the million dollar question. In some areas, yes we are ready. In other areas, damu pa kita ulobrahon,” he said.
One matter that worries local officials is the rehabilitation of the island’s road network being undertaken by the Department of Public Works and Highways.
“Daw ga-doubt kita kon matapos by Oct 26. Seguro kon obrahon 24/7 basi mas madamo sila mahimo. But they assured us the road wound be passable by then,” said Aguirre.
RDRRMC chair Jose Roberto Nuñez shared Aguirre’s concern. DPWH failed to send a representative to the meeting to give updates.
Nuñez, also the regional director of the Office of Civil Defense, said DPWH needed more manpower.
ONLY 67 COMPLIANT BUSINESSES
Meanwhile, the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) in Western Visayas said only 67 Boracay establishments have so far complied with various environmental laws.
Sophie Manuel, regional director, said yesterday her office was still processing the applications of 353 other establishments.
“We hope to finish the evaluation soon and determine which of them are compliant,” she said.
Manuel said they have accounted around 1,215 establishments which should comply with environmental laws.
“This is the standing order: the noncompliant to pertinent environmental laws cannot operate,” she stressed.
These environmental laws are the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Hazardous Waste Law, Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, and Presidential Decree 1586 or the establishment of environmental impact system.
Manuel said other establishments have not yet submitted applications because they were still putting up their sewage treatment plants (STPs) – a requirement under Memorandum Circular No.2018-06 of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
Under the memorandum, resorts and hotels with over 50 rooms must have their own STPs while those with rooms below 50 must have clustered STPs.
Compliance to environmental laws is just one of the requirements before an establishment could seek accreditation from the Department of Tourism (DOT).
They should also have, among others, a mayor’s permit, barangay clearance, Bureau of Internal Revenue annual registration, clearance certificate from the Social Security System, occupancy permit, pay the garbage fee, sanitary permit, real property tax clearance (if applicable), and building permit.
DOT Region 6 earlier reported it already accredited 25 hotels and resorts.
The initial list of accommodation establishments released by DOT had a total of 2,063 rooms or about 41 percent of its target of 5,000 rooms ready for operation by Oct. 26./PN