Boracay Island in Malay, Aklan (File photo)
MANILA – Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat supported the call for the creation of Boracay Island Development Authority (BIDA) to sustain the successes the government achieved during the island’s six-month rehabilitation in 2018.
“The success of the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force (BIATF) undoubtedly needs to be sustained and its gains can be continued with the management framework presented by a legislated and institutionalized Boracay Island Authority,” she said in a text message on Monday night.
“Such framework embraces the tried and tested collaborative inter-agency approach of the BIATF employed in the management of Boracay that is a rare gem in Philippine tourism truly worth sustaining,” she added.
In his penultimate State of the Nation Address on July 27, President Rodrigo Duterte made an urgent call for Congress to pass a law creating the BIDA, which would oversee and maintain sustainability on the world-renowned island.
In 2018, the government closed the destination to visitors at the height of the tourist season that started in May 2018 to launch an extensive rehabilitation of its degraded natural sites.
The move poured unprecedented investment in infrastructures such as roads, sewerage, drainage and solid waste management systems.
READ: Boracay stakeholders support BIDA creation
The creation of the BIDA was discussed by the BIATF but it was only early this year that it prepared a version of the bill that would serve as the official draft.
Romulo-Puyat also hoped this could be replicated in other Philippine destinations as the industry prepares for the new normal brought by the pandemic.
“Beyond Boracay, the Department believes that a similar arrangement be considered in managing tourism development areas in the Philippines,” she said.
Meantime, she cited as a “development” Duterte’s mention of domestic tourism in his SONA.
“Under MGCQ (modified general community quarantine), tourism is permitted with 50 percent operational capacity and fits well with plans of LGUs and host communities to slowly reopen the tourism economy initially allowing locals such as in the case of Boracay, Bohol, Baguio, Province of Cebu and Siargao, among others,” she said.
Romulo-Puyat said this is also a “sure and wise solution” in striking a balance between health and economic concerns.
The tourism chief has initiated exploratory talks with various local government units to facilitate the safe and gradual reopening of domestic tourism destinations such as in Boracay and Palawan.
She is set to visit Bohol and Baguio next, according to the Department of Tourism. (PNA)