Like many of you, we’re looking forward to the re-opening of Boracay, scheduled on October 26, 2018. Since Boracay’s closure on April 26 this year, we’ve only seen glimpses of how this rested beach-paradise from news reports and government agency officials. While we do our countdown for the re-opening of Boracay on October 26, let’s summarize what we know so far.
According to Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, completion of the Boracay rehabilitation efforts will take more than a year. There will be three phases:
- Phase 1 : Soft Opening (October 26, 2018)
- Phase 2 : April 2019
- Phase 3 : Completion (December 2019)
So, what we’ll have in October 26 of this year is the Soft Opening. Only the major roads will be built by then.
Open for Business, Sort of
For any business establishment to open in Boracay — from hotels and restaurants, to tourist attractions — it must have the required licenses, including the Environmental Compliance Certificates (ECC) issued by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). A few months before the soft opening on October 26, the DENR suspended all ECCs, which means that all businesses must re-apply for one. Establishments which comply with the ECC requirements will have their permits issued on or before September 15. That’s a few days from today.
As of today, only 180 out of the 2,300 commercial establishments in Boracay have cleared the requirements and are ready to operate on October 26. This represents only 7.8% of the pre-closing businesses, a lower figure than the earlier target of 30% out of the 2,300 establishments.
Reduced Number of Visitors
A total of 2.1 Million tourists visited Boracay in 2017, over 553,000 tourists from January to March 2018. For January 2018 alone, around 186,893 tourists visited Boracay. Those figures are obvious when you’re in Boracay, with the sea of humanity choking the island.
We have no exact figure how many tourists were in Boracay at any given day during those periods. When Boracay is re-opened, the number of tourists will be limited to 19,000 at any given time, according to DoT Secretary Berna Puyat-Romulo. We’ll have to see how this carrying capacity limit is going to be implemented and monitored.
Before we jump for joy that Boracay will be fully ready to welcome all tourists when it re-opens in October 2018, we must temper our excitement and remember that October is merely a soft opening. December 2019 is the expected date of full completion, although we’re unsure because some news reports appear to suggest that December 2019 is definite, while some reports use the word “may”, suggesting a flexible timetable.
Sources: GMA News Online (“DOT chief Puyat says Boracay rehab will be completed by Dec. 2019“); Inquirer.net (“DOT eyes complete Boracay rehab by December 2019“); Business Mirror (“2.1 million tourists visited Boracay in Aklan last year“); Rappler (“Over 553,000 tourists visited Boracay in 1st quarter of 2018“); Philippine Information Agency (“Boracay tourist arrivals up by 10 percent“); Philstar (“DENR suspends all ECCs in Boracay“; Manila Standard (“Only 180 Bora resorts okd for reopening“)