Tuesday, May 05, 2009

New tourism bill gives hope to preservation of Boracay

I just got word that Dona Victorina's blogger encounter in Boracay was an unqualified success. I have yet to hear directly from Rain B and Attorney Trixie, but indirectly, I gathered that some 30 bloggers showed up.

The only thing better than 30 bloggers showing up is if I was the thirty-first blogger to sign in. Sadly, though, I couldn't afford to go to Boracay.

In their campaign to help save Boracay for future beach lovers, I tried to clue Rain and Trixie in on provisions in the yet to be signed Tourism Act of 2009 that would put a stop to the environmental degradation being experienced in Boracay. I am not sure if they discussed this and so, here's a brief explanation of the relevant provisions.

I really don't have a bead on what exactly is happening Boracay but I have a suspicion that the crux of the problem may be regulation or the lack of it.

As can be expected in any part of the Philippines, once a certain type of business booms we can expect everyone with the capital and a little know-how to go into that same business.

There was a time when this was referred to as the 'lechon manok mentality' -- where lechon manok became all the rage and everyone got into the lechon manok business. Soon there were lechon manok grills on every street corner all over Metro Manila. This resulted in a glut and eventually, only those with big capitals survived the very tight competition environment.

Today, I'd like to compare what is happening to Boracay to a TODA (Tricycle Operator Driver Association) mentality in reference to how local governments are prone to relaxing regulation on businesses that are booming without regard for the impact it may have on the environment.

I would like to refer to it as the TODA mentality because in the last few years, the prices of tricycles have gone down and a lot of financing plans have made it affordable to get into the tricycle business.

This eventually led to a situation wherein almost every street corner in Metro Manila has a TODA. Because of their noisy two stroke engines, neighborhoods in Metro Manila have begun to experience a rise in air pollution and noise pollution. This is not to mention the hazards of kids being run over or rammed by speeding tricycles or the rise of tricycle riding drug dealers and robbers.

In Balic-Balic, Manila where I live, there are atleast seveb TODAs servicing the same route which is less than 2 kilometers long. The biggest one is the Welcome TODA which has over 200 members and the smallest one is a bunch of unfranchised tricycle drivers who claim they are a TODA.

The rise in the number of TODAs began during the term of Manila Mayor and now DENR Secretary Lito Atienza. His successor, former Manila Mayor turned Senator turned Mayor Alfredo Lim allowed the TODAs to flourish even further.

Both mayors have refused to regulate the surge in the number of TODAs. On one hand, their defense would be that the City Mayor's office has stopped granting permits and licenses to TODA or tricycle operators. On the other, they do nothing to monitor and apprehend illegal tricycle operators -- saying that there are just too many of them.

And more to the point, I think that Mayors Atienza and Lim are averse to cracking down on TODAs for the simple reason that these are their voters.

While certainly not for the same reasons, Boracay has become one crowded and pollution causing TODA. Despite the best efforts of the tourism businesses that operate in Boracay, the environmental impact of their operations have begun to strain the island's eco-system.

A few years back, chloroform was found in its waters, a sign that raw sewerage has begun to seep to the sea -- till this day, I am not aware if the resorts operation in Boracay have adequate sewerage treatment facilities. Apart from the chloroform, there is also the noise pollution and the impact of so many motorized boats thrashing its waters.

In anycase, the local government with jurisdiction over Boracay has scarcely put a stop to the mushrooming of more resorts. More resorts mean more revenues and who'd want to put a stop to that if you are a mayor?

What the mayor doesn't understand or refuses to understand is perhaps all the good that Boracay is right now, will eventually come to an abrupt halt if regulation is not enforced.

What will aid in the preservation of Boracay and continued profitability is adequate regulation, not by the local government, but by a Tourism industry big brother to be created by the Tourism Act of 2009. What the tourism big brother, or properly called the TIEZA (Tourism Industry Enterprise Zone Authority) will do is to develop and implement a Zone development plan with the tourism stakeholders and the local government. The zone development plan takes into account environmental conservation measures and the TIEZA is empowered to sanction those who violate these measures.

What this means is that Local Governments will be compelled to regulate the development of tourism businesses in their jurisdiction to prevent the over crowding of such establishments. This means better profits for the businesses and better revenues for the government and also, a longer life span for the tourism destination.


elmot said...

i love boracay---before. now it seems to me like a big mall or theme park.

that is why my new fav is bohol and caramoan.

this is a good news. i and just happy that they are now making new effort to save bora and restore it to former beauty; and stop the invasion of algae, ehehe

Admin said...

thanks for commenting Elmot.

Will be linking up to your blog.

Ella said...

That's good news! Good content and this entry is very informative. Know more about hotels and resorts in Boracay, please visit www.hotelsboracay.com.ph

Ella said...

That's good news! Good content and this entry is very informative. Know more about hotels and resorts in Boracay, please visit www.hotelsboracay.com.ph

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