April 30, 2018
The Philippine’s popular holiday destination Boracay was officially closed to tourists at midnight on Thursday, marking the beginning of a six-month clean-up.
The closure comes a month after Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte labelled the tourist destination a cesspool as a result of the island’s issues with garbage and sewage.
Though some have supported the move to clean up the island, tourism-reliant local businesses and their employees are scrambling to find ways to cope with the loss of a vital source of income.
According to the Philippine Daily Inquirer, businesses began laying off workers three weeks before the closure of the island, which will have an impact on the lives of over 70,000 residents.
One hotel chain laid off 280 staff, and an official told the Philippine Daily Inquirer that it was in the process of deciding what to do with its remaining staff.
Even businesses not directly associated with tourism reported that they were already feeling the pain.
The imminent drop in tourists to feed prompted hotels and restaurants to stop restocking, causing the number of orders received by suppliers of meat, vegetables and fruits to plummet by 50 per cent Aklan Governor Florencio Miraflores told the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
Transport operators, too, were hit hard, and owners who purchased van units under amortization will face the possibility of losing their vehicles should the closure drag on for several months, Miraflores told the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
Even Government hospitals in the province will take a hit, as the bulk of its operational funds come from terminal fees paid by tourists at the Caticlan port on the mainland of Malay and the Cagban port in Boracay, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported.
The government plans to dedicate the equivalent of about USD 38,520,175 in public funds to help ease the financial burden.
Some local businesses are also taking steps to help support their workers during the island’s closure.
While a local family-operated inn at Sitio Angol, Barangay Manoc-Manoc can no longer afford to pay its staffs’ salaries, the hotel manager told the Philippine Daily Inquirer that it will continue remitting contributions for the Social Security System.
Other business operators plan to absorb staff into their other businesses, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported.
Another, Sea Wind Boracay resort said that it would continue to support its staff.
“We have decided to keep them even if we are closed because they have been with us for many years and they have helped us build and develop our resort,” said Ruth Tirol-Jarantilla, the owner of resort, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer.