PRESERVING PARADISE: SUSTAINABLE TOURISM IN BORACAY
By: J. Albert Gamboa
The isle of Boracay, in its virgin state, had no electrical or indoor plumbing. As recent as the early 1990s, its waters were clean, and concrete structures were prohibited on the beachfront – a far cry from the runaway commercialization today.
Such unregulated growth could potentially social disruptions. Filipinos should learn from the jewel of the Mediterranean coastline – Cote d’ Azur in the south of France – which has undergone more than a century of tourism development. Yet the French Riviera has retained its status among the most celebrated coastal destinations in the world.
Another shining example is Bang Rong, a small community in Phuket, Thailand where residents banded together in 2000 to form an agro-tourism association aimed at better managing the local hospitality industry. Bang Rong’s pier has evolved into a popular attraction, with kayaking tours around the mangroves. Residents of the self-sustaining community realized the importance of those mangroves that were instrumental in protecting them from the wrath of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.
Boracay’s location in the province of Aklan, just off the northern coast of Panay Island in Western Visayas region, is strategically at the center of the Philippine map. Aklan is now booming, and several private companies are investing a total of PhP 20-billion for power and infrastructure development in the province over the next three years. These projects include solar, wind, and hydro power generation plants with a combined capacity of at least 70 megawatts.
Among the first to operate is Petro Energy’s wind farm in Nabas, a coastal town overlooking Boracay. In 2015, the project consisting of 18 wind turbine generators started feeding energy to the Visayas grid. This was Aklan’s maiden export of power sourced from the single biggest renewable energy venture in the province.
Investments are also on the rise in the municipality of Malay, which is home to Boracay’s three barangays. Ayala-owned Manila Water operates a 25-year concession there and is set to expand the coverage of its water supply business to the entire Aklan.
New resorts have sprouted on the front and back beaches of the “World’s Best Island” as voted by global readers of Travel + Leisure Magazine. The latest to open is the 285-unit Azalea Hotels and Residences, the first four-star quality serviced apartment-hotel on the island developed by the leisure arm of publicly-listed 8990 Holdings, Inc.
Azalea Boracay is a five-storey structure with apartment-sized suits on a sprawling 5,700 square meter property. Just a few steps away from the famous Bora shore, it is centrally located at the island’s main business district of Station 2, and is easily accessible via the Jetty Port Road.
Designed and built by GSN+p Architecture Studio, Azalea Boracay has a refreshing look that is spacious and wide open. Archt. Gene Arthur Go, Senior Managing Partner of GSN+p, said the project involved sustainable construction practices such as the use of LED lighting, low-flow toilet fixtures, and non-toxic paints.
Each suite is equipped with separate dining and living areas that are fully furnished; a full kitchen, adequate storage facilities, and a sizeable bathroom. Units range from 30 to 75 square meters in size. The hotel features a roof deck with sectional seating areas, a mini bar, a kiddie pool, and an adult infinity pool showcasing a panoramic view of the island paradise.
Ditas Yutuk, president of Azalea Leisure Corporation, said: “Vacation matters and it doesn’t take an arm and a leg to have a great vacation with your family and friends.” She pointed out Azalea’s concept of locking in the cost of a lifetime of future vacation at today’s prices, thereby giving good economic value for money.
Azalea is now offering lifetime vacation shares in the form of preferred shares. Members will be entitled to perpetual vacation rights in Azalea’s existing hotels (Boracay and Baguio) as well as its future resorts (Cebu, Davao, Pampanga).
Vacation shares are transferable and could be passed on from generation to another. Family members will be assessed monthly dues for the maintenance of these establishments.
Veering away from the traditional timeshare concept of locking in the members to buy at least one week of stay, Azalea will give them the flexibility to secure shares from a minimum of one night to as many nights as desired.
Nowadays, environmental measures are being implemented to prevent over-development and preserve the world’s best beach as a holiday haven. Just like Cote d’ Azur and Bang Rong, can Boracay become a sustainable paradise for future generation?