Temporary ‘self-closure’ in Gigantes Island sought

The Department of Tourism (DOT-6) has recommended the temporary self-closure” of establishments in Gigantes, Island in Carles, Iloilo to make it more presentable to local and foreign tourists.

DOT-6 regional director Helen Catalbas said the businesses could temporarily close for three to four months to pave way for the island’s cleanup and upgrading of their facilities.

“They could self-close if they want. It’s just a suggestion but the decision lies with the local government unit,” she said.

The suggestion was taken into consideration during the Northern Iloilo Cruise Tourism Ocular Inspection and Stakeholders Dialogue at the Iloilo Provincial Capitol on July 10, 2018.

Catalbas said they are willing to provide seminars to frontliners such as tricycle drivers pump boat operators, restaurant owners, among others.

She said the measure aims to prevent Gigantes from suffering the fate of Boracay Island in Malay, Aklan which was closed for tourism for six months to undergo rehabilitation.

She said the proposed closure of Gigantes Island is just a preventive measure, not curative.

“Meaning, that before siya maglala, kay-uhon lang anay,” she said.

Carles Mayor Salagunting Betita welcomed the suggestion saying he will relay it to the establishments in the island.

But he said it would be difficult to tell the businessmen to halt their operation as it is their main source of income.

“There will be a need to offer them alternative livelihood for the affected employees,” he said.

But he added that he will create a committee to assess the compliance of establishments as to the rules and regulations, laws, and local ordinances.

There are roughly 36 businesses in the island employing about 10 workers, according to Betita.

“The committee will also be involved in information dissemination as well as the issuance of warnings to non-complaint establishments. There are things that they need to do. If they will not follow, we will force them to close their operation,” the mayor said. Iloilo Gov. Arthur Defensor Sr. said there is a need to improve these island resorts which highly contribute to the tourism in the province.

He said he will talk to the mayors to come up with a plan of action to improve the tourism in Northern Iloilo.

He said some islands still lack comfort rooms and other accommodation facilities.

“Before the onset of the new season, like before December, we will make sure that Northern Iloilo is ready for visitors, especially foreign tourists,” he said.

The governor said he will also tap private sector representatives for possible investment.

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