MANILA, Oct. 19 (Xinhua) -- After six months of rehabilitation, the world famous Boracay resort island in the Philippines will be reopened on Oct. 26, with strict guidelines, said the Philippine Department of Tourism (DOT) revealed on Friday.
The Philippine Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said in a forum that to maintain the cleanliness of the island, the relevant central government departments and local governments are imposing a strict "no compliance, no opening" policy, which meant that establishments that failed to comply with environmental laws and requirements on the Boracay island cannot resume business until they do so.
"All establishments should secure first the necessary permits to make sure that a better Boracay is achieved," she said.
According to the DOT, out of 455 hotels only 68 complied, thus, are allowed by the local government in Boracay to operate next Friday, which also means that only 3,519 rooms are available for tourists. This number, however, is expected to increase if the remaining non-compliant will follow the regulations.
Puyat reiterated that the government will be stern in capping the number of tourist arrivals, enforcing only a total carrying capacity of 19,215 tourists. Only 6,405 visitors will be allowed to enter the island every day.
The reason for the new policy was the startling result of the commissioned study of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, revealing that the island can accommodate only a total of 54,945 people at a time, including about 34,000 local residents, said Puyat.
While maintaining such curtailment is hard for a famous island like Boracay, the secretary said that they will enforce a "no hotel, no entry" policy which prevents visitors from entering the island if they do not have a legitimate hotel booking.
"We talked to local and foreign airlines, and asked them to limit flights entering, given the limited number of rooms," Puyat added.
Aside from the cap on tourist arrivals, visitors should also follow a smoking and drinking ban along the beachfront, as well as a ban on parties by the beach.
Placing tables and chairs along the beach will not be allowed, as it limits movement in the area.
Puyat stressed that these efforts are meant for balancing business and sustainable tourism, which is the goal of the government.
"We are not just enticing tourism, but also educating people on responsible stewardship of the island," she said.
Since the closure of the Boracay island in April, the Philippine media has reported several times that the Southeast Asian country was planning to shut down other islands for rehabilitation.
Asked if there are other islands in danger of closure, Puyat said she sent letters of reminder to the local governments of some famous islands, like El Nido and Oslob, asking them to comply with environmental standards to avoid another case like Boracay.
"So far, they have been listening, they are policing themselves, on their own, voluntarily," she added.
Despite the six-month closure, the DOT remains confident that they will reach their year-end target of 7.5 million visitors, as tourists are beginning to discover other island gems like Siargao and Camiguin.