The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is discussing workable action plans with the Department of Tourism (DoT), the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), the Province of Aklan, and the Municipal Government of Malay to control the number of tourists visiting Boracay Island.

This came after the Boracay Inter-Agency Rehabilitation and Management Group (BIARMG), a DENR-led task force, reported that the surge in the number of visitors breached the government-set carrying capacity of the island during the Holy Week break on April 14-15, with 21,011 and 22,278 tourist arrivals, respectively.

A study commissioned by the DENR in 2018 bared that Boracay Island’s carrying capacity is 19,215 tourists a day, or about 6,405 arrivals a day based on an average three-day stay.

“We are now discussing possible adjustments on policies and what strategies we will take to prevent this from happening again in the future,” said DENR Undersecretary for Policy, Planning and International Affairs Atty. Jonas R. Leones.

Setting up a carrying capacity is in line with the DENR’s ongoing mission to protect and conserve the environment in Boracay.

If the population continuously exceeds the given carrying capacity, the ecosystem may become unsuitable for other species on the island to survive, or other resources may deplete.

BIARMG General Manager Martin Jose Despi explained that one of their recommended measures to prevent another overcrowding in Boracay is to integrate the use of QR codes in contact tracing into a control program aligned with monitoring the number of tourists going in the island.

In line with this, a proposed real-time monitoring system is necessary to see the total number of tourists issued with the QR code on a particular date.

Despi recommended a review on the data of airline and shipping passengers, and the total number of accommodations that booked tourists to prevent overbooking.

“We need an integrated information technology system that would take care of all these capabilities,” said Despi.

“The moment that we put place a relevant system or software, all of this would be properly addressed,” he added.

Leones added that DENR’s Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau will be tasked to study on the possibility of increasing the island’s carrying capacity, noting that the
“DENR’s policies should be based on science.” ###