TACLOBAN CITY-With the reported possible temporary closure of the Boracay Island to tourists, officials in the region hopes to take advantage of it.
Raoul Bacalla, municipal development environment and eco-tourism officer of Palompon town in Leyte, said that while they are ‘sad’ on the possibility that Boracay Island would be closed temporarily, they expect an increase of tourist arrivals at their Kalanggaman Island who will find it as an alternative from the famed tourist destination.
Kalanggaman Island is considered as among Eastern Visayas top tourism attractions known for its white powdery sand and crystal blue water located in Palompon, more than three hour drive from this city.
“We are sad about what’s happening in Boracay Island but we just have to have a positive perspective about it. We are actually prepared to welcome (possible influx of) tourists,” Bacalla, in a phone interview, said.
Last year, about 101,312 tourists visited Palompon generating an income of P19 million for the local government unit sourced from what they called conservation fee or entrance fee to the island.
According to Bacalla, they are limiting the number of tourists going to the island in a day to ensure that Kalanggaman would not suffered any possible destruction and avoid over-crowding.
“We limit to just 500 visitors a day. In fact, there were instances that we have to turn down some of the tourists because of this policy,” he said.
The local government unit also imposed an environment-friendly septic tank system to address the issue on waste water contamination of its beaches.
The system uses a kind of organomineral that hastens the decomposition of harmful bacteria present in septic tanks which results in non-contamination of water.
“We don’t have hard infrastructures in Kalanggaman Island except a pavilion which serves as an office for our staff and at the same time, a shelter for them during bad weather,” Bacalla said.
For her part, Samar Governor Sharee Ann Tan said that they are positioning the province for tourists who are into adventure tourism like caving, torpedo boat extreme ride, among others.
“Of course, we are not happy if Boracay Island would be closed considering that it is famous the world over. But if ever, we are just ready to welcome tourists to our province,” Tan said.
The provincial government has recently launched its tourism and investment campaign program dubbed as ‘Spark Samar.’
Samar is the home of the Sohoton Natural Bridge National Park, considered the country’s largest cave system in Basey town; torpedo boat extreme ride in Ulot River, Paranas town; and Langun-Gobingob Cave in Calbiga town which is known for its largest karst cave in the country, among others.
President Rodrigo Duterte had earlier said that he would close the operations at the Boracay Island due to some environmental concerns.