Rebranding Boracay into a normal tourist destination instead of a party island comparable to Ibiza or Majorca will be the government's priority with its reopening, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said Wednesday.
"It won't really be a party place anymore. We want it to be as it is, more peaceful, and we want to promote sustainable tourism," Puyat said in an interview on ANC.
Puyat believes the move will not affect Boracay's yearly income of $1 billion as tourist arrivals in the country during the island's months-long closure did not let up.
"Tourism arrivals increased by 11.35 percent. That was a surprise for me because I thought it would dip because of the closure of Boracay," said Puyat, who thanked the private sector for diverting tourists to other Philippine destinations.
She repeated President Rodrigo Duterte's policy of prohibiting casinos on the island, months after plans to build a $500-million integrated casino-resort on Boracay were shelved.
"There will be no casinos on Boracay," Puyat said. "We follow the President's directive."
An ad campaign is underway for the soft opening of Boracay on October 26.
Puyat said she will meet with the secretaries of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and Department of the Interior and Local Government to discuss the state of Boracay before its reopening. —Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News