The House of Representatives on Wednesday, August 4, approved on second reading a measure creating the Boracay Island Development Authority (BIDA) to promote and accelerate the sustainable development of the island.

The chamber approved through voice voting House Bill 9826, or the proposed BIDA Act, which is a priority legislation of President Rodrigo Duterte.

Under the bill, the proposed government-owned and controlled corporation to be known as BIDA shall manage, develop, operate, preserve, and rehabilitate the Boracay Island Development Zone, which shall include the entirety of Boracay Island and surrounding islets including Barangay Caticlan.

The development zone shall be transformed into a self-sustaining industrial, commercial, leisure, financial, and investment center to generate employment opportunities and attract and promote productive local and foreign investments, while strictly prioritizing the protection and preservation of the natural resources and biodiversity of Boracay Island.

A Boracay Action Plan geared towards investment sustainability and balanced development in the island shall be formulated and implemented.

The bill aims to develop responsible tourism through the participation of local communities including indigenous peoples in conserving biophysical and cultural diversity.

International standards of excellence in all tourism facilities and services shall be maintained with the end goal of promoting Boracay Island as an environmentally sustainable and safety-conscious tourism destination.

Programs and activities such as eco-farm tourism, lifestyle, medical and wellness, local arts and crafts, outdoor recreation, and other social activities like family reunions and celebrations, corporate conferences, and those with environmental preservation and conservation themes shall be promoted.