Boracay Island, the “crown jewel of the Philippine tourism industry”, reopened its doors to tourists on Friday.
“The reopening of the island is not the culmination of our journey on sustainable tourism – it’s just the beginning,” said Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat.
The island, described by President Rodrigo Duterte as a “cesspool”, was shut down on April 26 to pave the way for its rehabilitation.
Puyat said the closure of the island “is the ultimate lesson in balancing development and protecting the environment.”
She urged tourists not only in Boracay but also in other destinations around the country to be “responsible.”
“Let us ensure that generations from now, our children’s, children’s children will still say that it’s more fun in the Philippines,” she said.
The tourism chief thanked members of the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force (BIATF) who worked hard to restore the pristine beauty of Boracay.
BIATF is composed of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of Tourism (DOT), and Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).
“Congratulations, everyone for a job well done. Our concerted efforts have proven once again that change is indeed possible with strong political will, as our President Duterte has exhibited, and eagerness to work together for the love of country,” Puyat said.
“Compliments as well to our DOT Regional Director Helen Catalbas and the DOT Boracay Field Office,” she added.
Puyat also acknowledged the “patience, support, and cooperation” showed by the stakeholders during the 6-month rehabilitation.
“During the dry run, about a week ago, people would come up to the members of BIATF and tell us, this shoreline, the beachfront we are seeing now, this is the Boracay we fell in love with 30 years ago,” she said.
After Puyat declared the island’s reopening, “Bocaray Icon” was unveiled at Cagban Jetty Port in Malay, Aklan.IMT