San Miguel Corp. on Thursday proposed the construction of a bridge to connect Boracay Island to Caticlan in the Aklan mainland, as it supported the government’s decision to temporary close the iconic paradise to “transform it into a sustainable tourist destination.”
San Miguel currently operates the Boracay Airport in Caticlan and is upgrading it to turn the busy airstrip into a world-class airport.
“Addressing long-standing problems with sewage and solid wastes brought about by rapid growth of tourism, commerce and unfettered development now is critical to ensuring Boracay’s long-term sustainability,” said Ramon S. Ang, president and chief operating officer of San Miguel.
“The island needs to be rehabilitated and we have to support the government. Yes, we will endure some short-term pain, but it’s a step in the right direction and in end we are hopeful it would bring about long-term gain for all,” Ang added.
President Rodrigo Duterte earlier approved the closure of Boracay for six months starting April 26.
To ensure that Boracay will continue to thrive, Ang stressed that all concerned sectors, including government, businesses, developers, and its residents, must also look beyond the island and move to disperse tourism to nearby municipalities in Aklan province such as Caticlan and Nabas.
This, he said, would result in higher tourism revenues for the whole of Aklan province, more jobs for locals, and increased competitiveness of the Philippines as a tourist destination.
More significantly, it will also allow for the decongestion of Boracay, the SMC chief added.
Ang said a novel approach to solve Boracay’s environmental woes and bring about growth to other areas in Aklan is to build a Caticlan-to-Boracay bridge.
The bridge, he said, would reduce the need for tourists and tourism workers to stay on the island.
“Tourists and visitors will have the option to go to Boracay during the day and in the afternoon or at night for accommodations outside the island,” Ang said.
The accessibility of Boracay, through the proposed bridge, would enable developers to build hotels and resorts outside the island. These can be premiere destinations in their own right, as these areas also boast of beautiful beaches and coastlines, he said.
Some new establishments can be positioned as alternative or more affordable accommodations for tourists, Ang noted. At the same time, accommodations for workers can also be built.
With this, thousands of tourism workers from neighboring provinces would no longer need to reside in Boracay and contribute to the island’s population growth and, as a result, its waste.
“The development of neighboring areas would boost Aklan’s economy as a whole, while keeping island of Boracay sustainable for generations to come,” Ang said.
Ang said the construction of a bridge could also solve the garbage and sewage problem on the island and can be used as a safe way to deliver sewage via pipes, which would be built into the bridge design, out of the Boracay. Maintenance and repair will also be easier to manage.
This will also solve the garbage disposal issue, as daily refuse can be easily transported out of the island, removing the need to put up a dumpsite, he added.