The Philippines has ordered the closure of the island of Boracay, a world-famous tourist destination, starting on April 26th. The Philippines tourist’s index algorithm data showed that Boracay Island still holds the nation’s top spot as the Philippine prime tourist destination.
The recommendation to close Boracay from tourists for 6 months – or until October – came from the Department of the Interior and Local Government after growing concern over the island’s environmental health. The Department of Tourism and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources had also called for a “total” closure, according to a Senior Deputy.
Last year almost 1.7 million tourists, including a significant number of cruise line passengers, visited the island during a 10-month period, according to the governmental Philippines Information Agency.
Earlier this year Mr Duterte said Boracay was turning into a “cesspool” and threatened to shut it down.
The intensive indiscriminate use of land and declassification of the remaining wildlife forest areas in use for commercial consumption has brought the island to a point where the environment may not be able to recover from. The unsustainable tourism development continue to contribute to coastal and ecological degradation, social and cultural dislocation, rapid growth of island population, rampant solid waste disposal and increasing numbers of illegal connection of sewerage disposal where some of this were thrown out at the shoreline of Bulabog beach.
Officials were warned businesses had been releasing wastewater into the surrounding waters. In February, President Duterte condemned the island’s hotels, restaurants and other tourist businesses, accusing them of dumping sewage directly into the sea.
The decision has prompted concern for the thousands of people employed in Boracay’s busy tourist trade. The island is home to around 500 tourism-related businesses, which drew in annual revenue of $1.07 billion last year. The government said affected companies will receive financial aid.
It’s not clear how the shutdown will be implemented, though the department of trade and industry had earlier proposed closing the island down in phases, saying a total shutdown would be detrimental to businesses and livelihoods.