Greener spaces, rail system eyed in initial Boracay masterplan

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 16) — The newly rehabilitated Boracay will have sprawling open spaces, greener structures, and a possible rail system if the government pushes through with the initial masterplan for its rehabilitation.

Speaking to CNN Philippines, renowned urban planner Jun Palafox shared his vision for the island paradise -- including photos and videos of their "working concepts."

The government has tapped Palafox and his team to help rehabilitate Boracay and fix environment woes in the world-famous tourist destination.

So far, they have 33 recommendations to address issues including the island's transportation, sewerage, infrastructure, and waste management problem.

Palafox said based on their initial plan, Boracay's land area will be 70 percent open space, and only 30 percent for establishments.

Buildings must also be 50 meters away from the high-water level-- almost double the 25 meter easement currently enforced in Boracay.

They should not be higher than coconut trees, and will not be allowed to have habitable space on the ground floor.

The new and improved Boracay could also have a new railway, based on photos of the firm's "working concept" that showed photos of a monorail along their proposed transit corridors.

Boracay will also have wider roads, railways, trolleys, and bike-friendly spaces. It will feature a three-meter wide access road to beach for public every four hundred meters.

The team recommended a limit on the number of vehicles in the island and inventory of vehicles. For transportation, only battery-operated trikes, buses, monorails and cable cars must be allowed, Palafox said.

It also revived proposals to connect Boracay to mainland Malay, Aklan via bridge or cable cars.

To solve congestion issues, Palafox hinted a tourist cap may be in place. He said the volume of people and number of establishments on the island should be limited.

The police, he added, should not allow tourists to enter if Boracay is getting overcrowded on peak seasons.

Meanwhile, all big establishments and hotels will be required to have their own sewage treatment plants.

Only 50 to 60 percent of Boracay establishments are compliant with the country's Clean Water Act.

Palafox said the rehabilitation will be modeled from island country paradise Maldives.

The Tourism Department will likely adopt and expand Palafox's masterplan, although it will still be subject to change.

The masterplan comes as the government works to beat President Rodrigo Duterte's six-month deadline to clean up the island destination.

An interagency task force composed of the Interior, Environment, and Tourism Department has studied proposals to temporary close the island and declare a state of calamity to rehabilitate it.

Boracay has consistently been named one of the best islands in the world. It generated nearly P56 billion in revenues in 2017 alone.

Last year, more than two million tourists visited the island, according to Malay Municipal Tourism office records.