World class. That is the classification that travelers, most of whom customers and tourism industry experts, around the world had labeled on Boracay.
Just lately, or shortly after the island reopened to visitors after a six-month rehabilitation, the prestigious Conde Nast Traveler picked Boracay and named it the 2019 Best Island in Asia.
It must be emphasized here that this award giving body, a luxury and lifestyle travel magazine published by Condé Nastbased its result from a record of 600,000 voters weighing in on their favorite hotels, resorts and destinations around the globe.
Well, for many times in the past, Boracay was a recipient of various international awards such as TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Awardsfor World’s Best Beaches, Word’s Best Island Getaway by the Travel + Leisure magazine, and 4th Most Beautiful Island Beach on Earth by Most on the World, among others.
So perhaps, most people will think that everybody here is happy especially the stakeholders. Well, not all of them. Let me tell you why.
This corner yesterday dwelt on a highly anomalous issue about the pontoons on Stations 1 & 3 which the local government of Malay turned as its milking cow by implementing a P30 fee for its use by all water sports enthusiasts visiting Boracay.
This anomalous fee, I have to mind you, was based on Executive Order No. 51, series of 2019, issued by Acting Mayor Fromy Bautista purportedly to regulate the operations of water activities on the island. Yes, the collection, dear readers, is empowered by an executive order, and not by an ordinance. In fact, to date, there is no local law for that matter that grants power to the executive department to implement the collection of P30 for use of the pontoon but it is happening out there at the front beach, right at our very eyes, and a clear example of robbery in broad daylight by our officials. And no one is complaining.
But after getting deeper on the issue, I’m beginning to understand why.
You see, our local officials here seemed to have perfectly mastered the scheme of putting business owners in a hostage situation as they are constrained to go against the “powers that be” especially so that their businesses are at stake.
Take, for example, the issue of the pontoon. Acting Mayor Fromy Bautista recently called to his office the representatives of watersports businesses on Boracay to present them his executive order and eventually putting them in-charge in the collection process.
This is the reason why Boracay Island Hopping Adventure Multi-purpose Cooperative, together with other watersports organizations such as Aquasports Association, Aquanaut Association, and the Boracay Association of Sport and Scuba Diving (BASS) became the “uneasy collectors” in the process.
If I am on their shoes, I’m sure I would think twice before I oppose the acting mayor’s proposal into requiring all water sports operators to utilize the centralized pontoon situated along Stations 1 and 3 and charge P30 every tourist for its use on top of the payment for the latter’s preferred water activity.
Why wouldn’t I? The month of January is the renewal of business permits and I or my business might be put on a dangerous spot if the acting mayor’s demand is not met.
You see, business owners in Boracay can be taken hostage in a number of different ways and this one is like a blatant seize, with explicit demand. And so they are tied. Poor business owners. Now, I know why most of them are silent.
The acting mayor and his fellow local government officials should, I think, somehow be reminded that Boracay is a multi-billion island resort. Stakeholders here have put in so much and they were not just some small-time in Boracay’s tourism industry. I would say even that these investors are the very soul of Boracay tourism. They already have endured bad business days for good reason and that is the hope that something better is going to come out after all of this mess.
Now, I do understand. We cannot really question why stakeholders are becoming more and more agnostic about the future of the business in Boracay. It is not only because of the seemingly unfit and unstudied policies being implemented by the local government which are literally “too local in nature” and do not complement the design for competitive advantage in order to meet the “rising tide that lifts all boats” so to speak, but also because of our political leaders shady actions.
Well, what can you expect, anyway, from a group of politicians who are not supposed to be there in the first place. Tsk…tsk…tsk!
Clearly, the case of Boracay is a proof of the local government’s inability which is nothing short of national emergency. Good thing there was an intervention. Thank you, President Duterte. Thank you, dear God.
Now, if we will continue to allow political sanamagans to rule over Boracay, I’m sure we won’t expect the tourism and the local economy to be refreshed to the world-class standards that it truly deserves.
The only remaining sign wherein the business community in Boracay are pinning their hope on, I guess, is the eventual take-over of an “Authority” for the tourism and economy of Boracay to accelerate and for them to make a huge rebound.
For God sake, let these officials hands off the island. (Comments are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org)