MANILA -- With over 17,000 tourism employees in Boracay, the Department of Tourism (DOT) on Sunday announced it is now coordinating with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to address possible job displacements as the national government strengthens efforts to restore the island to its pristine condition.

"We are aware of the situation of Boracay but we cannot just discount the thousands of employees and their families and the economic contribution of the island through its tourist receipts and job employment," said DOT Secretary Wanda Teo in a statement.

"We have to strike a balance between the environment and the economy," she added.

In 2017, the island welcomed over two million local and foreign tourists, a 16 percent growth from 2016. It also employed the most for the Western Visayas region last year with 17,737 direct tourism employment accounting for 66 percent of the whole region.

DOT Regional Director for Western Visayas Helen Catalbas shared that most of the workers at the island are from other places like Cebu, Negros, Manila, and other provinces in Luzon.

The agency said DOT Regional Office VI is in coordination with other local government units in efforts to relocate employees that may be laid off during the Boracay rehabilitation.

"Those who will be affected can work with the demolition of illegal structures and the construction of the improved sewage system and road infrastructure," Teo said.

Hotel and tourism establishments can, for the meantime, polish and update their facilities and manpower during the reported Boracay upgrading.

DOT is also studying tax holidays and incentives for those business and employees affected. Skills development trainings and seminars for front liners and other tourism ambassadors are also being planned.

The DOT holds regular consultation meetings with tourism stakeholders including tour operators and travel agency associations in pacifying the effects to the domestic and international tourist market.

Meanwhile, it assured the agency remains steadfast in its support to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in its pursuit to solve the environmental woes of the island and the Department of Interior and Local Government in the apprehension of those who violated and abused the law.

After the upgrading and renovation, DOT bared it will be a 'new' Boracay.

"After the six-month timeline set by President Duterte, we look forward to introducing to the world the 'new' and improved Boracay," Teo said. (PNA)