Boracay Casino Resort Still On Track to Open in 2021 Despite Ongoing Hurdles

A planned casino resort on Boracay is on track to be launched in 2021, despite the Philippine island’s closure for environmental rehabilitation, a representative of one of the companies behind the project told local media.

News emerged last December that Macau gaming and hospitality giant Galaxy Entertainment Group had partnered Philippine leisure and entertainment company Leisure and Resorts World Corp. (LRWC) to build together a $550-million integrated resort on the island of Boracay. It was announced earlier this year that Galaxy has received a provisional gaming license from the Philippine gambling regulator, PAGCOR, for the operation of a casino at the planned property.

At the same time, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the closure of the island for a six-month environmental cleanup, following a probe into the environmental state of the popular tourist hub. The probe found that local businesses were discharging untreated waste water into the sea and that there were multiple illegal buildings across the island. Boracay was closed on April 26.

Responding to news that Galaxy and its local partner were planning to build a casino on the island, President Duterte has repeatedly said that he would not allow that.

Despite the President’s vows to prevent the plan from materializing and the island’s closure, LRWC is confident that the resort is on track to open by 2021, as originally planned. The company’s Vice President for Legal Affairs Katrina Nepomuceno said Friday that the environmental cleanup is not delaying the project as they were able to finish what they had to finish before Boracay’s closure.

It became known earlier this year that Galaxy and its local partner have obtained a 23-hectare site in the Barangay Manoc-Manoc area. Ms. Nepomuceno said that a land survey has proven that the portion of land was alienable and disposable.

Working Closely with Environmental Regulators

The LRWC official further explained that they have been working closely with the Philippine Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), which is in charge of the ongoing rehabilitation process, as well as with other government agencies, and that they are getting updates on the process from the Boracay task force.

Ms. Nepomuceno also told media that they want to be sure their project is fully compliant with the government’s environmental requirements.

Asked when construction on the resort is expected to begin, the official said that they are yet to decide on the official start of the development process but that they believe the 2021 targeted opening is still achievable despite the island’s closure. Ms. Nepomuceno further pointed out that she is confident in the future materialization of their plan because President Duterte has said that he wants to keep Boracay popular with tourists and they are offering an opportunity for that to happen.

The LRWC official also said Friday that they are yet to receive confirmation from the Department of Agrarian Reform about a recently announced planned for Boracay to be placed under an agrarian reform that would aim to hand land across the island to its natives.

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