MANILA -- The Department of Tourism (DOT) targets to have at least 5,000 Boracay hotel and resort rooms opened on October 26.

"Our target really is to have 5,000 rooms to be opened by October 26," DOT Undersecretary Arturo Boncato said during a Senate hearing on Monday.

"The strategy is for us to open quietly, there would be no major fanfare, no major event, in fact we wanted it just to have some sort of soft opening and the directive of our secretary is to really phase, to do the opening in phases," he said.

Citing official DOT record, Boncato said there are around 15,000 rooms on the island. But this may reach up to 20,000 rooms if the figures will be based on the survey of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources since there are businessmen operating "under the radar."

With 5,000 rooms for the opening, DOT will "gradually build" on the opening of the rooms depending on the number of establishments that will comply to government requirements.

"We have no idea at this point kung how many of those establishments can comply with the DILG (Department of the Interior and Local Government) and DENR clearances, so nag-a-abang po kami. By the time that comes, we will immediately accredit," Boncato said.

(We have no idea at this point how many of those establishments can comply with the DILG and DENR clearances, so we are waiting. By the time that comes we will immediately accredit.)

During a one-stop session in Boracay, at least 300 of the total 440 establishments applied for permits and clearances from  the DILG and DENR.

To date, the DOT "have not acted on anything yet," pending the status report from both departments, said the official. An accreditation from the DOT is the last requirement before business establishments can operate on the island.

While the DOT is planning on a soft opening on October 26, it is crafting a three-month campaign to reintroduce a rehabilitated Boracay, both to local and international tourists.

"We've set aside a total of PHP150 million for the announcement of the Boracay opening, but this is going to be part of a short-term campaign that will end some time end the year," Boncato said.

"It's a three-month campaign announcing not only domestically but internationally, especially to our major markets, the North Asian markets, to plan their trips to Boracay within the next few months," he added.

The government closed Boracay to tourists last April 26 to fix its sewage system and address numerous environment-related problems. (PNA)