DOT Chief: PH tourist arrivals in June up despite Boracay closure

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Vigan City in Ilocos Sur is among the favorite tourist spots in the country.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 23) — Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said despite the closure of Boracay island last April, tourism arrivals in the Philippines last June have gone up by 11.35 percent.

"In spite of the closure of Boracay, it increased by 11.35 percent. If you compare this June to last June," Puyat said in an interview with CNN Philippines Monday.

Puyat added she was satisfied at how President Rodrigo Duterte handled the situation in the island, as he discussed during his third State of the Nation Address (SONA) at the Batasang Pampanga.

Duterte had said he also wants to review other tourist spots for possible closure.

"I'm for it. Since he was just basically telling all the other local government units that if they do not comply with the environmental laws, isasara rin sila [they will also be closed]," she said.

Duterte hit local government units (LGUs) anew for lacking reinforcement of environmental protection laws in his SONA.

"I urge local government units to proactively enforce our laws, and not wait for us to swoop down on your areas just to do your duty and work," Duterte said.

Puyat added that the suspension of the environmental compliance certificates of Boracay businesses will be discussed this July 27.

"Madami kasing nabigyan ng permit na walang ECC ng LGU, so inayos lang natin," she said.

[Translation: There were plenty of businesses without ECCs that the LGU gave permits to, so we're fixing this problem.]

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources had earlier ordered to suspend the ECCs pending the review.

Both Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu and Puyat said Boracay will open on October 26 as planned, exactly six months after it was closed for rehabilitation under Duterte's orders.