By: Perla Lena
WESTERN Visayas stands to lose a third of tourism receipts once the temporary closure of Boracay Island takes effect on April 26, 2018.
Data from the Department of Tourism (DOT) Region 6 showed that in 2017, a total of 2,220,821 tourists went to Aklan.
The total tourist arrivals in Western Visayas last year was 5,852,937
Boracay accounted for 34 percent or 2,001,974 tourists, earning PHP56.15 billion in tourism receipts last year.
Lawyer Helen J. Catalbas, DOT regional director, said that in 2008, Boracay’s “carrying capacity was reached but it was known only very recently through studies conducted.”
During that period, a total of 634,263 tourists were documented to have visited the island resort.
With its more than two million visitors in 2017, the guests are more than three times its carrying capacity. Annually, tourist arrivals grow by 13 percent.
With the booming tourism industry, some 19,031 persons were given direct tourism employment in the island or 68 percent of the 28,103 jobs in Western Visayas.
These include jobs in the accommodation establishment, tourist transport and travel and tours, among others mostly provided by private institutions.
While the Gross Regional Domestic Product (GRDP) for 2017 is not yet available, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) data showed that in 2016, the service sector, which includes tourism facilities, contributed 57.3 percent to the GRDP of Western Visayas.
The services sector has accounted for 18.5 percent of the total output of Western Visayas.
With the looming closure, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) is now preparing to conduct the profiling of beneficiaries for its DOLE Integrated Livelihood Emergency Employment Program (DILEEP).
Under DILEEP is the emergency employment program or TUPAD where workers can avail a maximum 30 working days to be paid based on minimum wage. They will be tasked to clean up seashore and alleys, among others.
DOLE Assistant Regional Director Salome O. Siaton on Tuesday said they have to fast-track their program of work for the emergency employment to be implemented immediately upon the effect of the temporary closure.
The program will engage informal sector and the indigenous people. They will be identified in close coordination with the local government unit (LGU).
The LGU will also be engaged in identifying areas for the cleanup.
Meanwhile, workers from the formal sector affected by the six-month temporary closure may avail of livelihood program from DOLE.
Siaton added that they are working with concerned agencies for intervention to the 17,000 workers.
She said they are not terminated but if they are not required to work, then the “no work, no pay” applies.
There are workers, however, who are tapped by their employer to do some work “to make their establishments compliant with the standards,” thus they have to be paid, she added.
Employees of establishments that were closed for the violation of environmental laws are entitled to separation pay and likewise avail of DOLE’s livelihood program.
Catalbas said that there is more to Region 6 than Boracay.
“Western Visayas tourism is not Boracay alone and vice versa,” she said.
In terms of tourist arrivals, Iloilo City came in second contributing 19 percent to the total arrival in Western Visayas last year.
Negros Occidental shared 15 percent; Bacolod City, 14 percent; Iloilo province, 5 percent; Capiz and Antique with 4 percent each and Guimaras with 3 percent.
“At the end of the day, you might be the best because you did not grow so fast and you have more time to take care of your own people and environmental concerns of your destinations,” she said. (PNA)