No casinos, either new or existing will be allowed on the island of Boracay once it reopens after a tourism ban to reverse environmental damage, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat was cited as saying at a conference in Manila.
The island is scheduled to reopen on October 26. Puyat said the announcement is in line with the wishes of President Rodrigo Duterte that Boracay should be casino free.
“He has even instructed the Department of Tourism to close down the existing casinos in the island. So there will be no casinos at all in Boracay,” Puyat told tourism industry participants.
Separately, Tourism Undersecretary Arturo Boncato told local media that he will have to check whether existing resorts are offering casino services and whether they are operating with permits.
The pronouncements from the Department of Tourism throw doubt over plans by Macau’s Galaxy Entertainment Group and a local partner for a $500 million IR on Boracay.
Galaxy and Leisure and Resorts World expected to open the resort, which it says will be family and eco-friendly by 2021.
Galaxy officials are still expressing confidence they will be able to overcome the opposition.
At press conference in Hong Kong to present Q2 results last week, Vice Chairman Francis Lui Yiu Tung said the group backs the president on environmental issues and hopes a solution can be found.
“I hope that we would be able to work with our local partners to explain to the Philippine authorities that their vision is the same as ours,” the executive stated. “Boracay is unique. To find another beautiful island with an international airport, close to China and Macau; there aren’t any, so I still prefer Boracay,” said Lui.