San Miguel Corporation (SMC), one of the biggest stakeholders in the tourism industry of Boracay, is supporting the six-month closure of the world-famous island resort, adding that a long-term solution is needed to ensure the island’s sustainability even after the much needed clean-up.
SMC President Ramon Ang said he supports government’s plans to transform Boracay into a sustainable tourist destination by introducing SMC’s own initiatives towards the same goals.
SMC operates Caticlan Airport, where scheduled flights by Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific are expected to be reduced during the April-October shutdown. SMC is upgrading the airport’s facilities by extending the runway and building a new passenger terminal to accommodate international flights.
“Addressing long-standing problems with sewage and solid waste brought about by rapid growth of tourism, commerce and unfettered development now, is critical to ensuring Boracay’s long-term sustainability,” Ang said.
“Yes, we will endure some short-term pain but it’s a step in the right direction and in end we are hopeful it would bring about long-term gain for all.”
To ensure that Boracay will continue to thrive, Ang reiterated his proposal for the construction of a 2-kilometer toll bridge that would connect the island to Aklan –decongesting Boracay by giving tourists and island workers a convenient link to the mainland.
Ang said government, businesses, developers, and its residents, must look beyond the island and move to disperse tourism to nearby municipalities such as Caticlan and Nabas.
This would result in higher tourism revenues for the whole of Aklan province, more jobs for locals, and increased competitiveness of the Philippines as a tourist destination.
The Caticlan-Boracay bridge will be built at SMC’s expense, drastically reducing the need for tourists and tourism workers to live on the island.
“Tourists and visitors will have the option to go to Boracay during the day and in the afternoon or at night for accommodations outside the island,” Ang said. Developers can also build hotels and resorts on the mainland.
Ang said the construction of a bridge could also help mitigate Boracay’s environmental problems as pipes can be built into the bridge to remove sewage, fresh water can be piped in from the mainland, and solid waste can be trucked off the island.