Fresh from the (re)launch of It’s More Fun in the Philippines as the country’s tourism slogan, the Department of Tourism has just announced the new More Fun Forever sustainable tourism drive for Boracay island.
The Philippines’ top travel destination, Boracay has been rebooted to focus on sustainable and responsible tourism. “We’re serious about building an industry that is as lucrative as it is people-centered,” says Howard Uyking, assistant secretary for brand and marketing communications at the Philippines’ Department of Tourism (DoT). “We’re using key lessons from the Boracay rehabilitation and involving the island’s tourists, stakeholders, and local communities in making Boracay a model of sustainable tourism in Asia.”
The first phase of Boracay’s rehabilitation saw the clearing of a 13-meter stretch of shore of White Beach, and the cancellation of major public events such as the “LaBoracay” parties for Labor Day.
From LaBoracay to Love Boracay
The Labor Day celebrations this year is called “Love Boracay”, with a focus on eco-friendly pockets of activities around the island. The week-long string of events started April 26 — a year after Boracay’s closure:
- April 26: Ati-Atihan Sadsad (tribes parade); Pinta Layag (Paraw Regatta and Sails Painting); forum on marine tourism and sustaining Boracay; Summer Street Party and Boracay Food Fest (until May 1)
- April 27: Talk on Green Buildings and Designs + art installation at City Mall; Water Festival and Arts and Music Night at Mad Monkey Road
- April 28: Beach Clean Up at White Beach, Bolabog Beach, interior areas of Yapak, Manoc-Manoc, and Balabag villages; Talk on “The War at the Beachfront” at the Manoc-Manoc gym; Food Fest at Bolabog Road (until May 1)
- April 29: Department of Tourism’s “More Fun Forever” campaign launch
- April 30: Drone Film Festival and Dive Fest (including a dive cleanup)
- May 1: Tagging and release of sea turtles at Puka Beach and launch of the “Say No to Plastic Straw” campaign; Ocean Lovers Night and Dive Fest Awards Night at the Laketown main road
“We can still party, but unlike in the old scenario, where there is a deliberate effort to bring more than 100,000 people to the beach, it’s now kept to much smaller groups in individual restaurants and other establishments,” DoT undersecretary Art Boncato tells Smile. “The burden of a huge party is really cleaning up, and this is tricky especially when our islands are not equipped to deal with it.”
Boracay is still one of the World’s Best Islands
The DOT is also coordinating with various groups to look after the welfare of Boracay business owners. “Apart from showcasing local products (visit D’Mall in Boracay island for local-made desserts and souvenirs!), the group has been working to upskill locals, as well as encouraging businesses to hire residents and use supplies and materials from the island,” says Boncato. “The challenge now is being able to strike a balance between maintaining what we have gained from the rehabilitation and making it lucrative for the locals of the island.”
Boncato also shared plans that will open up other areas on Boracay for tourism, such as converting some of the wetlands into an ecotourism park and protecting Boracay wildlife to highlight as an added attraction.
Plans for other tourism destinations
The Boracay rehabilitation set off a movement in other provinces, including the ongoing rehabilitation of Manila Bay and the beginning of efforts in more islands – including El Nido, Panglao and Siargao, plus north’s Sagada and Baguio.
DOT has initiated partnerships with various government agencies, companies and organizations to champion sustainable practices in various projects around the country, including the Mactan-Cebu International Airport and its 50-year plan for a passenger-friendly and sustainable airport; the ANAHAW Philippine Sustainable Tourism Certification, developed with the GRaT Center for Appropriate Technology, awarded to hotels and resorts; and Cebu Pacific’s Juan Effect pledge for all passengers of the airline.
Cebu Pacific Air flies to Caticlan and Kalibo from Manila and Cebu. cebupacificair.com