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Business as usual in Boracay, tourist traffic remains same: DOT

It is business as usual in Boracay as tourist traffic remains relatively similar or heavier as compared to the past days and weeks amid the island's environmental issues, Department of Tourism (DOT) Region 6 Director Helen Catalbas said.

The statement came after top officials of the DOT, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), and Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) convened on Wednesday in efforts to rehabilitate island of Boracay.

According to Catalbas, booking cancellations are insignificant and only 12 accommodation establishments with only 64 rooms and 192 visitors have reported cancellations.

In an interview with reporters in Iloilo, Catalbas also noted that since last week the DOT-Region 6 Compliance Monitoring Office had been operational.

The office was initiated after President Rodrigo Duterte issued a six-month ultimatum to the DENR and the DILG to fix environmental issues besetting the island.

Catalbas believes that with efforts the three agencies are exerting, addressing the issue will not reach six months. "I am certain we will beat the timeline even before it comes."

For her part, DOT Secretary Wanda Tulfo-Teo vowed to save the top tourist destination.

“We are here to save Boracay, to restore Boracay to its original form, which used to be a paradise,” she said after the closed-door meeting with the DENR and DILG.

Meanwhile, DILG Officer-in-Charge Eduardo Año assured erring establishments and individuals will be meted out with appropriate sanctions to avoid the repeat of what happened in Boracay.

DENR, for its part, embarked on the Operation Plan: Regain Paradise with the mission to rehabilitate the damaged ecosystems of the destination and conserve its natural and tourism values for future generations.

DOT reported that Cimatu will be visiting the island this week to bring his personnel and augment the operations or performance of clearing Boracay's drainage system.

According to DOT Undersecretary Katherine De Castro, DOT is now crafting a communications plan about the developments in Boracay both for the local and international community.

An ocular of the island on March 2 is being scheduled to involve some senators and the participation of the Department of Justice and the Department of Public Works and Highways.

Joyce Ann L. Rocamora / PNA