Inside Boracay: Week 18

Inside Boracay: Week 18 sees Pockets of work on the main road where widening and pipe-laying continues. Some stunning comments have been made by Galaxy’s Chairman, hinting at a very different plans for Boracay, which has little to do with a Casino!

  • Boracay Establishments and Tourists told to hold off on Bookings
  • DOT denies that requirements for opening are “severe”
  • DENR insists their STP ruling will stand, regardless of the Municipal Ordinance
  • Caticlan Port Administrator announces at least 28 Cruise Visits in 2019
  • Stakeholders warned of scammers, whilst Rappler takes it as an opportunity to imply corruption by Stakeholders
  • Two Electricity Poles collapse plunging Boracay in to a 12hr Blackout
  • Aklan to be divided in to 2 Legislative Districts
  • Galaxy Chairman talks about plans for Boracay, in conjunction with the Government; and it really isn’t about a Casino!!

Inside Boracay: Week 18 – 23 August A further blow to tourist booking confidence

DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) announced publicly that tourists should hold off making bookings for the re-opening of Boracay.  This is despite the Airline Carriers actively selling seats on flights from 26 October onwards.

DENR Secretary, Roy Cimatu, said Since the Department of Tourism will have the final approval of the requirements, we call on the public to wait for the announcement on which compliant and accredited establishments will be initially allowed to operate by October 26 before they proceed with their reservations

On the same day the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force (BIATF) announced a “Dry Run”; a soft opening of a Soft Opening (15-25 October), aimed squarely at Aklanon’s wishing to Boracay.  But be warned it’ll be no relaxing holiday; guests may be required to move from one hotel to another, each day, so the Taskforce can assess what else needs to be done before the island is reopened to all tourists.  No details have been released for how tourists will secure a visit during the Dry Run, or how they will be vetted.

Stakeholders have commented that the constant public half-announcements from DOT or DENR, the lack of any Action Plan, the lack of a Carry Capacity Plan and, ultimately, any idea of how many hotel rooms Boracay Resorts and Hotels will be allowed to sell in the future, is impacting on Boracay’s ability to market itself for re-opening.  This is causing further damage to the tourism industry.

Inside Boracay: Week 18 – 24 August Stakeholders comments dismissed by DOT

Business World Online (See Article Links & Sources 1.) quotes Benito C. Bengzon, Jr, DOT Spokesperson as saying “When [these businesses] said that the rules are too severe, it’s their opinion”.

The comment comes in response to Stakeholders complaints about the cancellation of all ECC’s, the need to re-confirm all Permits and Certificates, and to secure DOT Accreditation, and all before the 7th September.  All this, so businesses can start operating again.   This is in addition to the new DENR requirement to install or share a STP, if they are a beachfront hotel or business, with more than 6 rooms.

Inquirer.Net (See Article Links & Sources 2.) interviewed a business operator from the island, who feared that the possible failure of many businesses to comply with the new “unreasonable” requirements and deadlines, would be used as an excuse to postpone the island’s reopening.  “It would then be made to appear that the reopening was postponed because businesses were unwilling to comply with requirements when it truth, government is imposing unreasonable demands on us” 

You’ll remember in our Week 17 Article that we reported on the 3rd Senate Hearing of the Committee of Environmental and Natural Resources.  During this Hearing, Epimaco Densing III – DILG Undersecretary advised that only 30% of Boracay Resorts and Hotels would be able to comply with the requirements set by the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force, and be allowed to operate by 26th October.

The percentage is based on the expectation that only 30% of business operators will have processed their applications for permits and certificates, including reapplying for their ECC’s (Environmental Compliance Certificate’s), all of which were revoked by DENR, and securing DOT Accreditation – now a requirement for operating.

A standard complaint every year from businesses is the time to takes the various departments and offices to undertake their assessments and site checks for Permit and Certificate Renewals.  Now the whole island needs to go through the whole process in less than 2 weeks.

Philippine Travel Agencies Association (PTAA) President, Jose C. Clemente III, also commented on the low figure given for hotels reopening at the end of October.  Clemente agrees with the stakeholders who have said that the new rules and requirements, imposed by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Department of Tourism (DOT), have made it almost impossible to comply in time. Clemente noted that it is practically impossible for too many businesses to comply in time, to be cleared for re-opening.

Clemente has stated that he will be writing to the DENR and the Boracay Interagency Task Force, asking them to act on the many issues that are making it difficult for businesses to be cleared for opening by October 26; including STP Installation, Release of Alien & Disposable Land Certifications and the lack of available Official Receipts to issue to businesses once they’ve paid (See Article Links & Sources 3.)

Inside Boracay: Week 18 – 25 August Boracay Cruise Ship Deal for 2019 set at 28 Visits!

Niven Maquirang, Caticlan Jetty Port Administrator, announced that Boracay will see a minimum of 28 Cruise Ship visits in 2019, in a move he believes will boost the Boracay tourism industry.

Maquirang has advised that it won’t only be Boracay, being promoted to the Cruise Passengers, but other destinations in the province will be offered.  However, if passengers are offered a chance to visit the ‘Worlds Number One Beach/Island’  or a day tour to a different location in Malay or Aklan, the chances are they’re going to want to visit Boracay.  (See Article Links & Sources 4.)

Inside Boracay: Week 18
28 Cruise Ships to visit Boracay in 2019

Boracay can expect to see an increase in Cruise Visits over the next few years, as part of the Department of Tourism’s  National Cruise Tourism Strategy 2016-2022.  The DOT’s aim is to increase Cruise Tourism across the Philippines to 456,164 Passengers, with 402 Port Calls by 2022.   2017 saw, by comparison 195,751 Passengers with 140 Port Calls.

The DOT will not meet their 2018 target due to the closure of Boracay, which had been set to be the 2nd most visited Port, after Manila, in 2018. The eight predicted Cruise Ship visits to Boracay, for the remainder of 2018, has since been reduced as four have rescheduled their visits to 2019.

Some Stakeholders believe that the increase in Cruise Ships visiting the island, will be to make up visitor numbers and potential lost revenue and taxes, when the Carry Capacity is announced as considerably lower than the current number of hotel rooms on the island.

Check out our articles about Cruise Tourism.

Boracay Island Concerns about visiting Cruise Ships
Comments on Facebook regarding the news of increased Cruise Visits in 2019

Keep an eye out for Your Hospitality Hubs pending article about Cruise Tourism.

Inside Boracay:  Week 18 – 25th August Permit Scammers Re-appear.

Boracay Businesses were being contacted shortly after the Island’s closure, by scammers claiming to be representatives of DENR or Boracay’s Mayor, Ciceron Cawaling.   These, so-called, “fixers” were offering to help people clear the name of their hotel from the ‘Violator’s List’.

Richard Fabila, Chief of Boracay’s Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENR) advised business owners to personally visit the One Stop Shop at CityMall and not respond to emails, Facebook Messages or telephone calls from “Fixers” and imposters offering to secure the permits and certificates needed to re-open.

It is very disappointing that Rappler’s coverage (See Article Links & Sources 5) of Fabila’s advice has been titled to specifically give the impression to their readers, that Boracay Business Owners were intentionally seeking out fake Permits by ill-gotten means; “DENR to Boracay Businesses: Stop Dealing with Fixers, Imposters.”

“Some people previously went around introducing themselves as DENR officials. There are resorts that informed us these people have returned. The owners should already take care of their transactions themselves so that they will understand the process”.   Richard Fabila, CENR

Fabila reminded Business Owners that the One Stop Shop has been extended until 7th September, and the fees are minimal; certainly not the P30-60,000 deal being offered by the scammers.

Inside Boracay: Week 18 – 26 August DENR Stands by their STP decision

DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu stated that DENR’s decision about the implementation of STP’s for all beach-front establishments with 6+ rooms, will stand.

He acknowledged the Malay Municipal Ordinance No.307, which only requires establishments with 50+ rooms to install an STP, and those with 49 or fewer rooms to either install their own STP or form a cluster STP with others.  But he stated that this had never been fully implemented.

“This time, the Boracay Interagency Task Force (BIATF) will make sure that the STP requirement shall be enforced fully.”

Cimatu stated that the issue of installation of STP’s is ‘Non-Negotiable’ if establishments wish to open.  You can read more about the issue covered in Inside Boracay’s Week 17 Article  or See Article Links & Sources 6 (Below).

Inside Boracay: Week 18 – 26th August Major Catastrophe diverted when Electrical Poles collapse into Street.

Boracay Island was rudely woken up around 3.17am, on Sunday 26th August, as electricity was lost.   As blackouts are not uncommon on Boracay, most people waited until later in the morning to ask for the cause this time.

Turns out that two of the Poles, flanking the main road at E’Mall Station 3, had collapsed into an excavated pit and fallen across, blocking the road and bringing down a twisted spaghetti of electrical wires.   The Island can be thankful that this occurred at 3am when few people were around.  They can also be thankful that it didn’t result in a fire.

But the biggest thanks must go to Akelco, and the various Telco’s (; Cable Providers) who were on-site at 6AM readying the area for some major reconstruction and repair work.  Power was restored by 4PM on the same day, surprising many islanders who expected repairs to take a minimum of 36 hours.

  • Two Electricity Poles Felled in E’Mall Boracay – Photo Credit Astrophel Tabanera

The poles had collapsed into trenches dug for the new road and drainage pipe.  It is believed that the trenches were dug too close to the poles foundations, which are currently within the Road Easement area.  With significant work going on, and heavy duty machinery being used to break up the old road it was, perhaps, just a matter of time.

Inside Boracay: Week 18 – 27 August Island left surprised by Galaxy Chairman’s Interview

CNBC shared a transcript of their interview with Galaxy Chairman, Lui Che Woo.  Galaxy’s arrival on Boracay has been the biggest bone of contention, from the moment a possible closure was being considered.

“When Galaxy negotiated with the Philippines government, our plans were to turn Boracay into an internationally acclaimed island. First, it will be low-density and second, we want to restore the beautiful natural scenery to how it was before.” Lui Che Woo, Galaxy Chairman

During the Interview Woo speaks of his confidence that the project will continue and that the project was never just about a Casino but working with the Government to return Boracay to how it once looked, with a few select High-end Resorts!!

Galaxy Entertainment founder Lui Che Woo on its Boracay plans from CNBC.

Che Woo’s interview has left many stakeholders wondering exactly what the nature of the deal is between Galaxy and “The Government”, especially in light of the land reforms also being considered.  Is it a case of the islands closure going ahead because of the deal with Galaxy (but not specifically their intention to include a Casino within their resort)?  Only time will tell!

Inside Boracay: Week 18 – 28 August Senate Votes to divide Aklan in to two districts

Having started out in the House of Representatives, the Senate gave full support to a Bill proposing the splitting of Aklan in to two legislative Districts.  The Bill was passed on its third reading and will now be presented to President Duterte.

The 1987 Constitution states that a City, or Province, with a 250,000 minimum population, should have at least one representative in Congress.  Aklan’s last census shows a 574,000 population enabling a division of the area.  The division will result in:-

  • Aklan District 1 (Kalibo, Altavas, Balete, Batan, Libacao, Madalag, New Washington, and Banga) and
  • Aklan Division 2 (Malay (Boracay) Buruanga, Ibajay, Nabas, Malinao, Tangalan, Makato, Numancia and Lezoa).

The division will also result in greater Congressional representation for Aklan as a whole.  See Article Links & Sources 8.

Inside Boracay: Week 18 – 29th August Single Use Plastics Ban 

Municipal Ordinance 386 is now in place; a Ban on Single Use Plastic.  Back on June 2, SB (Sanguniaang Bayan or Councillor) Maylynn “Nenette” Aguirre-Graf advised that a proposed Ordinance document had been prepared, and was ready to be presented to the Council for consideration.   Having gone through its 3 Readings the proposal is now an Ordinance and enforceable.   Read our breaking Story about the proposal, in our Inside Boracay: Week 5 Article

Single Use Plastic Ban Boracay 2018
Municipal Ordinance No.386 A Ban on Single Use Plastics on Boracay

Inside Boracay: Week 18 – 29th August DOT tries to manage tourist expectations for re-opening

“We are managing expectations. It will be open, but don’t expect all the roads to be completed.”  Tourism Secretary, Bernadette Romulo-Puyat

Inside Boracay: Week 18
Beautiful Boracay: Photographed from the skies in Week 18 of closure. Credit to Boracay From the Sky

Romulo-Puyat warned tourists, planning to visit Boracay, not to expect a ‘Spick and Span Resort Island’, adding “How can you rehabilitate an island, under a state of calamity, in only six months?”   Indeed!

Secretary Romulo-Puyat also advised that the Carry Capacity has been decided.  Stakeholders remain none the wiser as to what the figure is, as it is to be discussed with the Boracay InterAgency Taskforce first.   But DENR Secretary Cimatu has said that the number of people on the island daily in the past, is higher than the new Carry Capacity.  Prior to closure there was a daily average of 6,400 tourists and 19,000 other people.   Romulo-Puyat has said that the number of tourists would be regulated, and the Airlines will be required to correspondingly limit flights to Boracay.

There will be no more beach parties like LaBoracay, which in 2016 attracted up to 70,000 party-goers, as such large events will breach the new Carry Capacity.  The Ban on drinking and smoking on White Beach will be enforced, to limit the number of cigarette butts finding their way in to our oceans, and to cut the risk of accidents caused by broken glass.  The target is especially those who bring their own bottles of alcohol to the beach, and leave behind their trash.  There will, instead be designated areas for both smoking and drinking.  (See Articles & Links 9 & 10).

Romulo-Puyat also stated that she intended to discuss the issue of a Memorandum of Agreement, between the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and Boracay Tubi System Inc., with regards to STP’s.   Inside Boracay covered this issue in Week 17: Is the Poop About to Hit The Fan

Other News Missed from Inside Boracay: Week 17 

On August 21 Rappler (See Article Links & Sources 10.) covered a story about the possible future of transportation on Boracay, and around Aklan.  Yellow Dot Transport Terminal Inc, a distributor of Euro-4 compliant Jeepneys,  has undertaken a survey of Boracay’s transport requirements.  According to an official of the Multi-Agency Taskforce (See Article Links & Sources no 11), there are approximately 3,000 vehicles on the island, not including undocumented and unregistered vehicles.

Proposals being considered, to ease congestion on the island, include limiting Resorts to two vehicles each, as well as a ban on Golf Carts.  ATV’s will most likely be moved to the mainland, expanding the tourism industry to Boracay’s Aklan neighbours.   And all petrol and diesel trikes will be banned from Boracay’s Roads from 31st August 2018.

Yellow Dot’s proposal is for modern, 23 Seater Jeepneys, with GPS (Global Positioning System), WiFi, an automatic fare collection system (AFCS), and (CCTV), to service the Main Road of Boracay, from Cagban thru to Yapak.   The same units will service Caticlan Airport to the Jetty Ports.  The islands E-trikes will be redeployed on the narrow, side routes of Boracay, adopting a color coding scheme for each route.  Although, many islanders will tell you that the E-Trikes are not great when going up, or down, hills!

The Municipal Council will consider the proposal, in terms of whether it will complement the existing E-trikes on the island.  The Boracay Land Transport Multi-purpose Cooperative (BLTMPC) currently has 543 member trikes, 64 multicabs and one 22-seater solar Jeep in Boracay and Malay.

Missed one of our previous Inside Boracay Articles?  You can catch up with all of them here

Article Links & Sources:-

  1. No Changes to Boracay Business Clearance Processing DOT – Business Mirror
  2. Where will Tourists stay if only a third of Boracay reopens? – Inquirer.Net
  3. PTAA frowns on ‘30%’ Boracay opening – Business Mirror
  4. 28 Cruise Ship Arrivals expected in Boracay in 2019 –  GMA Network
  5. DENR to Boracay Businesses: Stop Dealing with Imposters, fixers – Rappler
  6. DENR reiterates order requiring establishments in Boracay to put up STPs – Manila Bulletin
  7. CNBC Transcript: Lui CheWoo, Chairman, Galaxy Entertainment – CNBC
  8. Senate Approves Bill Splitting Aklan in to Two Legislative Districts – Rappler
  9. Only clean fun for tourists in Boracay – Inquirer.Net
  10. DOT bans parties, smoking, drinking in Boracay – Philstar Global
  11. Modern jeepneys proposed in Boracay – Rappler
  12. Boracay’s chaotic transportation system will also be rehabilitated – Top Gear Philippines

What do you think?

Written by My Ranggo

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