Inquirer Libre - Davao - - PANGUNAHING PAHINA -

BORACAY, AKLAN—A 60-day total closure of business establishments on this resort island is being pushed by Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año, who both want it to take place during the rainy season when tourist arrivals are low.

Teo and Año were pressing Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu to agree to their recommendation.

The three officials have been ordered by President Duterte to rehabilitate Boracay in six months.

Mr. Duterte has warned that the island, which he calls a “cesspool,” faces closure should its environmental problems remain unsolved in six months.

Teo, Año and Cimatu arrived in Boracy for the Senate inquiry into the problems of the worldfamous island.

Teo told reporters that she and Año had talked about closing down business establishments from June 1 to July 31.

“It’s total closure … because we have to repair the roads, drainage. And the demolition [of structures within the 30-meter easement zone] might be dangerous to tourists,” Teo said.

She said hotels and resorts could use the downtime to upgrade their respective structures.

Teo said some business establishments had already started to make improvements, such as connecting their drainage pipes to the Boracay sewerage system. Asked to comment on the adverse impact of the island’s closure on business, she said this was for the best of Boracay. “Somehow, we have to bite the bullet.”

She said the island’s total closure to tourists during the rainy season was the proper time because of low visitor arrivals.

The tourism secretary said there was no problem with those wanting to visit Boracay this summer. But establishments should rebook (tourists during the rainy season) to other places. She said tourists could be diverted to other travel destinations in the country, such as Cebu, Bohol, Masbate, Iloilo, Bacolod, Palawan, Siargao, Davao and Camiguin.

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