Boracay Beach Management Program key to “Best Island” award

Boracay Island was recently named the “World’s Best Island” for 2012 by Travel + Leisure magazine, beating hall-0f-famers such as Bali (Indonesia), Galapagos, the Great Barrier Reef Islands (Australia), Santorini (Italy), and the Hawaiian Islands of Maui, Kuai and the Big Island. Readers were asked to rate the following characteristics for the Islands category: Natural attractions, activities/sights, restaurants/food, people, value, and romance (optional).  Tourism figures have been similarly impressive: for the first half of 2012, foreign tourists to the island have reached 700,000, representing a 41% surge over previous year statistics.

One of the key factors for the international acclaim that Boracay is now reaping is the two-year old Boracay Beach Management Program (BBMP), a multi-sectoral initiative for the protection, sustainability and enhancement of the island’s coastal and marine resources. Malay Mayor John P. Yap, who recognized the importance of pursuing a comprehensive strategy among various stakeholders, launched the BBMP in September 2010. This is embodied in the rallying cry: “Para Sa Boracay Ako! For Boracay I Will…”

Now set to celebrate its 2nd year anniversary on Saturday, 29 September 2012, the BBMP is also celebrating major milestones in its seven priority areas:

Local Governance.  With strong leadership and political will, Malay Mayor John P. Yap has pushed for legislation to ensure beach cleanliness. Visitors and residents are reminded to observe municipal ordinances against littering, smoking, extracting sand and pebbles, etc. At the start of 2012, Mayor Yap led various LGU officers in a planning alignment workshop to formulate a program that will further enhance the “Boracay Experience” for tourists and locals alike.

Coastal Resources. Volunteer groups continue to perform regular beach and underwater cleanup drives. Artificial reef domes are being deployed and monitored in strategic areas to revitalize marine and aquatic life along Boracay’s waters. New coral growth from the coastal nurseries are being transplanted to degraded reef areas, while mangrove swamps continue to be protected.

Watershed. Under the National Greening Program, Boracay’s CENRO (Community Environment & Natural Resources Office) is committed to planting an additional 120-hectares in the watershed areas to prevent soil erosion and improve water yield for safe and potable water on the island. This is in addition to the 428-hectares of forest plantations that have been established since 2008.

Water and Waste Water.  Boracay’s water is certified to be safe for drinking straight from the tap, with meticulous testing to ensure that it is 100% compliant with the Philippine National Standards for Drinking Water (PNSDW). It has also recently upgraded its sewage treatment facilities, where wastewater is treated to be safe for marine life and suitable for recreation activities upon discharge, complying with the Class SB Standard of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

Solid Waste. Boracay now has three new dump trucks for more effective garbage collection, while the materials recovery facility continues to improve the processing of residual waste. A sanitary landfill is being built as a more long-term solution to solid waste management.

Hazard Protection.  Young and dynamic volunteers man the Boracay chapter of the Philippine National Red Cross. Trained personnel, new sea patrol craft, and upgraded communications equipment all ensure that the island has sufficient capabilities to respond to emergencies and assist in disaster relief.

Information, Education & Communication.  Workshops, seminars and training programs have been designed for the local government units to improve quality services among all tourism frontliners and ensure that tourists have a memorable “Boracay Experience.”  Social media is also being used to reach out to a wider audience through the Facebook page: Recently the BBMP Communications Group was also formed to publish a regular newsletter that will provide regular updates about BBMP activities.

With its previous experience in the United Nations Development Programme’s Integrated Coastal Management (ICM) framework, Petron played a key role in facilitating the formation of the BBMP.  Starting out with a handful of members from the local government units, national government agencies, community organizations, youth groups and the private sector, the Boracay Beach Management Council (BBMC) now counts about 30 proponents.

The BBMP, in a span of only two years, has become a transformative force on the island of Boracay. It is a perfect example of how a dynamic public-private partnership has worked together to create the “World’s Best Island” through environmental excellence and sustainable development.

The BBMP proponents include:  The Municipality of Malay, Aklan; San Miguel Corporation; Petron Corporation; Petron Foundation Inc.; Provincial Government of Aklan; Department of Environment & Natural Resources; Boracay Foundation Inc.; Akelco Boracay; Aklan Provincial Tourism Council; Barangays Balabag, Caticlan, Kabulihan, Manoc-Manoc & Yapak; Boracay Association of Sucba Diving Schools; Boracay Island Hopping Association; Boracay Island Water Company; Boracay Island Special Fire Protection Unit; Boracay Land Transportation Multi-Purpose Cooperative; Boracay Solid Waste Management Team; Boracay Special Tourist Police Office; Boracay Yuppies; Coast Guard Detachment-Boracay; Department of Tourism-Boracay; Islander Boracay; Kiwanis Club of Boracay; Lifeguard Boracay; Malay Auxiliary Police; Malay Farm-C; Philippine Chamber of Commerce & Industry (PCCI)-Boracay; Rotary Club of Boracay; YES FM 91.1; 605th MARPSTA (Maritime Police); and 61st 1B 31D PA Task Force Boracay.