Tourism Secretary Wanda Corazon Teo (Photo from her Facebook page)

The Department of Tourism’s (DOT) target of 7.5 million for the country’s tourist arrivals for 2018 would not be adjusted despite Boracay’s closure, Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo said on Saturday.

“We will work on it. The target will still be the same, it’s still 7.5 million,” Teo told reporters in an interview.

“Huwag na lang natin isipin na kapag sinara ang Boracay, wala nang tourism. Meron pa po, ang dami pa pong product ng DOT na pwede natin ibigay [Let’s not think that there will be no more tourism when Boracay is closed. Actually, there are still a lot of DOT products that we can offer],” the DOT chief said.

Teo noted that the DOT has monitored rebookings by tourists from Boracay to other destinations in the Philippines such as Bohol, Cebu and Palawan.

Likewise, the DOT chief said there were tourists who have rebooked their trips six months later after the closure would be lifted.

“Ang Boracay naman natin is, ‘yung foreign arrivals nila is 986,920, unlike Cebu for tourist arrivals nila is almost half of our arrivals, 2,264,042,” Teo noted.

“If you compute that, that’s almost 50 percent sa ating tourist arrivals, while Boracay is only less than one million,” she said.

President Rodrigo Duterte had ordered the resort island’s six-month closure following a recommendation from the DOT, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Department of the Interior and Local Government.

The closure was ordered to give way for rehabilitation efforts on the 1,032-hectare island. Duterte described the island as a “cesspool.”

The DOT chief said there was nothing to hide from international stakeholders regarding Boracay’s closure.

“Hindi natin pwede pagtakpan,” Teo said. “I will be telling the real score.”

“Remember Thailand, they also closed the island kasi nakikita nila madumi na,” she said.

Teo was referring to the closure of Koh Tachai island in Thailand due to overcrowding and degradation of natural resources and the environment.

A report by the Bangkok Post in 2016 quoted the director general of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plants Conservation as saying that the island had to be closed “before the damage is beyond repair.”

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