ILOILO CITY — The Department of Tourism (DOT) is not out to spoil the fun in Boracay, but has asked officials governing one of the country’s top tourist spots to make sure that activities lined up for summer would not worsen environmental problems on the island in Aklan province.
Tourism Assistant Secretary Frederick Alegre said, the Malay town government should ensure that summer activities, called “LaBoracay” parties, would have enough safeguards to ensure that there would be “no trash and that people would not relieve themselves in the ocean.”
“LaBoracay” was first used as a term for the long Labor Day weekend, where parties and other events were held to draw people to Boracay.
It was also used to refer to other holidays when tourists packed the island and when nonstop beach parties, concerts and other activities were held.
“If they cannot address [these problems], then they have to rethink [about holding these tourist-drawing activities],” Alegre told the Inquirer in a telephone interview on Monday.
Rowen Aguirre, municipal executive assistant for Boracay affairs, said there was no decision to stop the holding of LaBoracay parties but these would be regulated.
Tourists, mostly students and young professionals, took advantage of the long break and were drawn to Boracay’s beach parties and other events sponsored by major companies.
At least 60,000 tourists packed the island for LaBoracay in 2017.
But residents complained about the trash left by tourists and the nonstop partying on the island that was already plagued by environmental concerns and perennial problems brought by years of unregulated development.
They said cigarette butts, plastic bottles and beverage cans were left on the beach and thrown into the water.
Some drunk tourists were also seen urinating on the beach.
The tourist influx worsened traffic and resulted in a shortage of boats crossing between the Caticlan port on the mainland and Boracay, residents said.
“It is okay to have parties but [these should be] within limits. The DOT wants to make sure that it is properly done,” Alegre said.
President Duterte earlier warned that he would close Boracay after noting that it had turned into a “cesspool,” due to unregulated development and violations of environmental laws by resorts, hotels, restaurants and shops.
The DOT has asked local governments and the tourism sector to help promote alternative destinations, while the government is addressing problems in Boracay.
Tourism Secretary Wanda Tulfo-Teo and DOT officials toured several cities and towns in Mindanao as part of the agency’s “Go South, Go Mindanao” campaign to promote islands that possess the qualities that led to Boracay’s inclusion in travel magazines’ list of the world’s best resort destinations.
“With expanded connectivity between international visitor markets and gateways in Mindanao, we can now showcase destinations in southern Philippines as safe and truly fun tourist havens,” Teo said in a statement.
She identified the Island Garden City of Samal in Davao del Norte province, Siargao in Surigao del Norte province and the island province of Camiguin, as top picks among destinations featured in the campaign. —With a report from Jerome Aning
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