Region 6 will weather Boracay closure — NEDA

WHERE HAVE ALL THE TOURISTS GONE? Boracay Island looks almost deserted on the first day of its six-month closure for a much needed rehabilitation. IAN PAUL CORDERO/PN

ILOILO City – Western Visayas’ economy is dynamic and would overcome the adverse effects of Boracay Island’s temporary closure, clarified the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

Regional Director Ro-ann Bacal issued the clarification after the Department of Tourism (DOT) Region 6 accused her office of undermining investor confidence in Western Visayas, particularly the region’s tourism industry.

NEDA disclosed last week that Boracay’s six-month closure for a much needed rehabilitation would slow down Western Visayas’ Gross Regional Domestic Product (GRDP) by 5.07 percent to 5.23 percent

According to Bacal, it was NEDA’s central office which conducted a simulation showing the socio-economic impact of Boracay’s closure.

Asked what were the bases of the projected 5.07 percent to 5.23 percent slowdown in the region’s GRDP, Bacal replied, “Ask the central office.”

“During the presentation of the Gross Regional Domestic Product, there was a paper prepared by the national policy and planning staff of the NEDA central office. They were the ones who made the simulation. They generated their info from the data of the central offices of agencies,” said Bacal.

The other day, DOT Region 6 director Helen Catalbas said other tourism destinations in Western Visayas could cushion the negative impacts of Boracay’s closure.

According to Bacal, she never said Western Visayas would be “greatly affected” by Boracay’s closure nor Western Visayas’ economy dependent on Boracay.

Western Visayas’ economy is the fifth largest in the country and would continue to grow, she stressed.

Last year, she said, the main contributors to the region’s growth was agriculture and fishery which recovered from -1.8 percent in 2016 to 8.8 percent in 2017; the service sector which grew from 4.9 percent to 14.4 percent; and real estate which grew from 3.7 percent to 7.2 percent.

The continued expansion of property developers catering to commercial, residential and office use will spread the development outside the highly urbanized cities of Iloilo and Bacolod, which will remain as major catalysts of development, and will allow for a more equitable distribution of development in the provinces of Aklan, Antique, Capiz, Guimaras, Iloilo, and Negros Occidental and its cities, Bacal added.

The immediate socio-economic effects of Boracay’s closure, on the other hand, would be more evident in the municipality of Malay where Boracay is located and the province of Aklan, according to NEDA.

“(But t)he strength of the region’s economy will definitely surpass the problems in Boracay and it is the economies of the other provinces that will accommodate the displaced workers during the temporary closure,” said Bacal./PN


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