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“Tourists will not miss Boracay when they visit Guimaras”

“Tourists will not miss Boracay when they visit Guimaras”

“Tourists will not miss Boracay when they visit Guimaras.”

That’s what Guimaras Provincial Tourism Officer Liberty Ferrer stated, according to a recent article in the Panay News.

Guimaras is no Boracay

I have to respectfully degree with our island province’s chief promoter. My lovely asawa and I moved to the Philippines almost nine years ago. We’ve spent all but 18 months in Guimaras, the province my spouse grew up in.

We’ve visited many of the beaches located throughout Guimaras. We’ve been to Raymen Beach, our favorite,  at least a half dozen times.

Raymen Beach Resort on Mothers Day

Raymen Beach, Guimaras

While Guimaras does have an ample supply of good beaches and resorts, none of them even remotely compare to the great White Beaches of Boracay.

We’ve visited Boracay twice in the past few years. Our last visit was marred by algae-ridden beaches. While annoying vendors buzz around and bother you every few minutes or so, the stunning sunsets are incredibly amazing.

boracay sunset

Boracay sunset

The upcoming rehabilitation of Boracay Island may take up to six months. During that time, world famous Boracay will be closed off to all local and foreign tourists.

President Duterte, who has called Boracay a “cesspool,” ordered its beginning April 26 in a bid to rescue from ruin a once idyllic island.

Boracay Island drew 2 million tourists and generated over a billion dollars in revenue last year.

The Spin

I fully understand why our local tourism director is trying to put a positive spin on Boracay’s closure by promoting Guimaras. It’s her job. Someone needs to make up that billion dollars in revenue, but it’s not going to be Guimaras. Or Iloilo.

That’s right, I said “Iloilo.” At least Ms. Ferrer’s job will be easier than Iloilo City Mayor Jose Espinosa III who is promoting night markets and the Iloilo Esplanade, one of the longest walkways in the Philippines, to draw visitors.

vendors in iloilo

Downtown Iloilo Market

Night markets and the Iloilo Esplande’s river walk are no comparison to Boracay’s stunning white sand beaches and clear blue waters, exciting nightlife, and plethora of watersports such as sailing, windsurfing, snorkeling, diving and jet skiing.

I’m sorry. If you put lipstick on a pig, it’s still a pig.

So while the respective local governments draw up plans – including new tour offers, improved visitor service and spruced-up sites – to attract Boracay-bound tourists, neither Guimaras nor Iloilo will ever replace Boracay.

lots of people on the beach at boracay

Another stunning Boracay sunset

However, at least Iloilo City’s mayor isn’t claiming that tourists will not miss Boracay if they visit Iloilo.

Guimaras Plans

Meanwhile, over in Guimaras, Provincial Tourism Officer Liberty Ferrer said they have been meeting with resorts and lodging associations as they prepare for more tourists coming in.

“We are doing an inventory of rooms to determine our capacity to receive tourists for overnight visits,” she said, adding that they aim to make visitors stay longer.”

The island province has 668 rooms in accommodation establishments accredited by the Department of Tourism and endorsed by local government units, said Ferrer.

Visitors may choose from seven “tourism circuits” – agri-eco, island hopping, sightseeing, biking, culture and heritage, research and education, and experiential tourism – said Ferrer.

Guimaras Transportation Issues

The Provincial Tourism Office, the DOT, the Land Transportation Office, and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board will meet with the local transport sector next week to discuss how to legalize transport operations.

Among the modes of transportation in Guimaras are jeepneys, tricycles, multi-cabs, and private vans. However, ride these at your own risk and exercise caution.

Many smoke-belching jeepneys and tricycles operators in Guimaras flagrantly violate existing rules and regulations. Jeepney and trike operators on our island province are notorious for stopping in the middle of the road without warning to drop off or pick up passengers. Jeepneys speed through the province faster than a gecko hopped up on shabu.

According to the Panay News, Guimaras has not yet received travel or accommodation bookings due to the impending closure of Boracay Island.

Guimaras Positives

However, I’m not advocating that you skip Guimaras as a tourist destination. The 25th Annual Manggahan Festival is coming up this May 11th. It’s a celebration of the mango that you really shouldn’t miss.

The beaches, especially Raymen Beach, offer a pleasant respite from the daily stress of everyday life.

The locals are friendly. Many overnight accommodations are reasonably priced. “Oliva’s Kitchen” in San Miguel, Jordan, Guimaras, offers the best food on the island. Guimaras has many positives and is a great place to live.

However, please don’t compare Guimaras to Boracay.  When it comes to first class, world famous beaches, Boracay shouldn’t be missed. Even if it is currently in “cesspool” status. However, we plan to visit Boracay again next year after the rehabilitation is completed.

Nevertheless, we’ll always call Guimaras our home.