PUERTO PRINCES CITY – A closure similar to what was put in place on Boracay Island will not be carried out for tourist attractions in the city of El Nido in Palawan province, national government officials and local authorities agreed on Wednesday.
RJ dela Calzada, city administrator of El Nido, said the city received a commitment from national institutions that closures similar to what was done in Boracay, the country's top coastal destination, would not occur in their city. The agreement was reached at a meeting attended by El Nido officials led by Mayor Nieves Rosento, Secretary of Environment Roy Cimatu, Minister of Tourism Bernadette Romulo-Puyat and Secretary of the Interior Eduardo Año.
Instead of closing, there will be a tighter campaign against the wrong companies in Palawan's main tourist destinations to preserve their fragile environment and enforce compliance with environmental laws.
Previously, Puyat warned the local government that his agency would support the closure of El Nido if it failed to address the problem of managing waste and water pollution.
Dela Calzada said the rehabilitation efforts, which began after Boracay was closed to tourists for six months starting April 26, will be increased and will include demolition of structures that violate environmental regulations.
During the meeting, Cimatu reportedly demanded the demolition of at least 22 tourist institutions found to violate regulatory policies.
"Part of the rehabilitation effort is the closure of companies that are not compliant," Dela Calzada told the Inquirer.
El Nido has seen a rapid increase in tourism in the past 10 years, and is hosting more than 200,000 tourists each year. Companies that serve tourists have also grown under relaxed local regulations, which have caused overcrowding and occupation of coastal houses by most commercial buildings.
In May, after the closure of Boracay, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources launched a cleanup at El Nido, leading to quotes from more than 200 companies for various violations and destruction of buildings on the main beach of Bacuit Bay.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & 70+ other titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4 in the morning & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.
For feedback, complaints or questions, contact us.