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Boracay closure's economic impact likely minimal: NEDA

The proposed six-month closure of Boracay Island is expected to have a minimal impact on the Philippine economy, but will affect livelihood in the country’s top tourist destination, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said Tuesday.

“Basically the overall picture we see is, even if say the ban extends to up to six months, at the macro level, its not going to be significant. The most is something like 0.1 percent of GDP (gross domestic product),” NEDA National Policy and Planning Staff Director Reynaldo Cancio said in a media briefing.

Cancio said concerned agencies are discussing various measures to mitigate the impact of the possible closure of Boracay Island, including promoting alternative tourist destinations, such as Palawan and Davao. “Something that is being discussed with DOT (Department of Tourism) is how we can accommodate them (tourists) in terms of the capacity; and of course the infrastructure,” he said.

NEDA Undersecretary Rosemarie Edillon said, “For now, at the macro level, it doesn’t have to be that bad but of course, the short-term impact could be significant, especially for Malay (municipality) and therefore there has to be the proper timing and coordination in coming up with that contingency plan and (creating) possible employment opportunities.” She said the proposed island-wide closure could affect workers who make their living in the popular tourist trap.

“For this, the LGUs (local government units) will also need to coordinate closely with the Department of Tourism for possible placement of these workers to the nearby establishments not affected by the closure. We're also hoping that the closure would happen during the lean season,” she added. Edillon further said the NEDA has submitted to the Office of the President its recommendations and analysis of the planned Boracay closure.

For her part, NEDA Assistant Secretary Mercedita Sombillo is optimistic the planned closure's negative effects on the island's economy would be reversed once efforts to restore its damaged environment has been done. “If the closure will really materialize, they will make sure that will be recouped in the subsequent opening of Boracay,” she said.

Leslie Gatpolintan / PNA