‘CONGESTED BORACAY’: Island can only carry 55,000 people at a time

METRO BORACAY Task Force headed by Senior Supt. Jesus Cambay Jr. (3rd from right) concludes their day’s works with a stroll on the beach of Boracay Island. The task force formed by Police Regional Office-6 is tasked to ensure peace and order in the island while the massive rehabilitation works take place. (Ricky D. Alejo)

A STUDY on the carrying capacity of Boracay Island indicates that the famed tourist destination can only host a maximum of 19,000 tourists at a time.

The study conducted by a multidisciplinary team of researchers from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau (DENR-ERDB) and the University of the Philippines at Los Baños also showed that the maximum carrying capacity of the island is 55,000 people including population, workers, and tourists.

The study was part of the 6-month closure of Boracay to give way to its rehabilitation.

In environmental terms, carrying capacity refers to the maximum population size that the environment can sustain indefinitely, given the food, habitat, water, and other necessities available. It is also gauged by the capacity of existing infrastructure and services to cater to a certain population size.

Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) officer-in-charge Eduardo Año said there is a possibility that they might limit the number of tourists in the island.

“Based dun sa initial report, lumalabas the carrying capacity of the island is 55,000 people including population, workers, and tourists. Overall, tourist maximum is 19,000,” Año said.

The DILG chief said massive parties like La Boracay on Labor Day will not be allowed to avoid congesting the island.

Año said such parties cause overpopulation with tourists swelling to 40,000 to 50,000, resulting in over 100,000 staying on the country’s tourism gem at a time.

The DENR confirmed the information in a statement.

“The study showed that the recreational areas such as the beach and swimming areas can only accommodate so much number of persons on a daily basis. This also led to the generation of too much waste and the deterioration of water quality, among others,” the agency said in a statement.

The study also indicated the number of rooms in the island exceeds its carrying capacity.

Government figures indicate that there are more or less 15,000 rooms in the island.

The Boracay Inter-agency Task Force said it would use the study in formulating policies to ensure that the rehabilitation efforts of the island are sustained.

In line with this, the task force is planning a 10-day dry run starting Oct 15 to 25. The dry run is open to local tourists, with Aklanons as priority.

“This will allow the BIATF to assess what else needs to be done before the reopening of the island to all tourists (domestic and foreign) on October 26,” according to the DENR-6 regional office statement.

Also, the operation of the One-Stop Shop for the requirements needed by the establishments for their compliance has been extended from August 25 to September 7, 2018.

So far, only 25 establishments (5,000 rooms) are allowed to reopen after satisfying the BIATF requirements.

Records from the Aklan Provincial Tourism Office indicated that 2,001,974 tourists went to Boracay in 2017 or an average of 5,484 tourists a day. Foreign tourists totaled 1,052,976 while domestic tourists numbered 906,939. Overseas Filipinos numbered 42,069.

Tourists arrivals in 2016 was pegged at 1,725,483

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