The government is planning to control the number of tourists that can visit Boracay, although the inter-agency task force overseeing the ongoing rehabilitation of the island has not yet determined the number of people that would be allowed once it reopens in October.
This was revealed on Monday, July 16, when an official of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) told senators that the research determining the carrying capacity of Boracay Island has yet to be completed during the joint hearing of the Senate Committees on tourism and local government.
The research, which is expected to be completed in August, will determine the capacity of the island, as stated by Bighani Manipula of the DENR’s Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau.
However, according to a 2008 study, the carrying capacity of Boracay Island is only about 35,000, which creates conflict given that the population in the island reaches 60,000 and 110,000 especially during peak season.
Senate Tourism Committee chairperson Sen. Nancy Binay claimed that Boracay has exceeded its capacity, based on initial figures.
According to her, efforts to rehabilitate the island would be put to waste if the government allowed overpopulation in the island.
Interior Undersecretary Epimaco Densing III, for his part, said the issue “would be discussed by the task force once the study on the carrying capacity of the island is available.”
But Binay is unmoved, saying that the government would be sending out false hopes by announcing Boracay would be open in October when in reality the island cannot accommodate more visitors.
“You are saying by October 29 Boracay will be operational but apparently because of the carrying capacity it is possible that Boracay is not yet ready to accommodate tourists,” Binay told Densing.
Densing insisted that the task force will come up with a mechanism to manage the number of tourists allowed to visit the island to prevent overcrowding once data becomes available.
Another hearing is set to be conducted by the committee before the reopening of Boracay to check on the progress of its rehabilitation.