Bent on implementing the new tourist carrying capacity in Boracay, the Philippine government has imposed limits on the size and number of ships, as well as the number of air seats, disembarking at the destination.
Art Boncato Jr, tourism undersecretary for tourism regulation coordination and resource generation, revealed that Boracay will be closed off to cruise ships during this year’s peak periods, including Holy Week and the summer; long weekends such as August 24-26; the duration of the Southeast Asia Games that the Philippines is hosting from November 30 to December 11; as well as the Christmas and New Year period.
In the remaining parts of the year, cruise ships allowed to dock in Boracay should have a maximum capacity of 2,000 pax, unlike in the past when up to 4,000 pax were allowed, Boncato said last Friday on the sidelines of the PATA Annual Summit in Cebu City.
“We’re doing this because we always have the carrying capacity in mind,” he said. No more than 19,215 tourists are allowed in all major tourism sites in Boracay at any given time. “We don’t want to breach that and we want to control the tourism environment especially at this time when we are still finishing the rehabilitation (of the island).”
Boncato added that the Boracay inter-agency task force is diverting cruise ships to other destinations in the Philippines, with Subic the biggest beneficiary during Boracay’s temporary closure. The task force also plans to promote Ilocos, Iloilo, Bacolod and other destinations to this end.
Commercial and charter flights to Caticlan, the entry point to the island, are also reduced.
“The inventory of air seats is really big and if it reaches full capacity, will contribute to (Boracay’s) carrying capacity,” said Boncato. Similar to what it is doing with cruise arrivals, the agency is also putting forth other Philippine destinations as options for visitors.
As well, the moratorium on new and ongoing construction in the island, tourism-oriented or otherwise, has been extended by another six months.
Boncato said the inflow and outflow of tourists to Boracay are being monitored strictly and on a daily basis. There is the one port, and one set of entry regulations. All passengers are required to go to the port where tourist numbers are monitored to have their bookings and reservations checked.