Businesses still 'confused' over Boracay opening plans

MANILA, Philippines – Boracay businesses are still confused over the government's guidelines when top tourist spot Boracay Island reopens to the public.

In a DZRH interview, Elena Brugger, president of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry - Boracay, said that many establishments are still unaware of the progress of their permit applications.

"Hinihingi ng business sector na bigyan kami ng kopya. Be transparent. We in the business sector have the right to know. Confused pa ang business community dahil marami pa ring hindi naklaruhan," Brugger said on Tuesday, October 16. 

(The business sector is asking for a copy [of compliant businesses]. Be transparent. We in the business sector have the right to know. The business community is confused because there are a lot of things that need to be clarified.)

Boracay was partially opened to local tourists starting Monday, October 15. The famous island is set to be opened to the public again on October 26, 6 months after it was closed down due to environmental problems.

Brugger said that bulk of the applications stay on the Department of Environment and Natural Resources' (DENR) desk, because they have to review of compliance to 5 laws.

"Ni-lift na ng DENR ang [suspension] ng ECC (environmental compliance certificate) pero hindi pa rin klaro. Meron pa ring mga nakapila pa rin na naghihintay ng certificate of compliance. (DENR has lifted the suspension of the ECC but it's still not clear. There are still some businesses waiting for their certificate of compliance)," she said.

UNDER CONSTRUCTION. Some establishments along Boracay's White Beach in Station 1 are still under construction. Photo from Net Sacapano

UNDER CONSTRUCTION. Some establishments along Boracay's White Beach in Station 1 are still under construction.

Photo from Net Sacapano

The DENR has lifted the suspension of ECC and have issued 159 Certificates of Conditional Approval to businesses that are 90% to 95% compliant to environment laws.

Only after the DENR's green light can businesses proceed to get accreditation from the Department of Tourism.

"We want transparency because we want to work together and cooperate since Day 1. They should have told us from the very start the guidelines kasi marami pang agam-agam 'yung iba (because others are still unsure)," Brugger said.

Only the list of 68 hotels and resorts (with 3,519 rooms) approved as of October 12 were provided by the government. The government will be limiting the the number of accredited establishments, to bring down the total number of rooms in the island to 8,355 from 14,456 rooms prior to the closure.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia earlier estimated that the country would lose P1.96 billion due to the decision.

Despite the shutdown, foreign tourist arrivals in the Philippines still went up to 4.26 million in July. Tourism officials are confident that the year-end target of 7.5 million will be achieved. – Rappler.com

Aika Rey

Aika Rey covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler. Before writing about politicians, she covered budget, labor, and transportation issues.

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