Boracay island to ban tourists for six months

The piece of Filipino paradise has become a victim of its popularity

Famous for its wide stretches of powdery white sands and unusually clear water, the four-square-mile large island of Boracay in the Philippines has served as an epitome of a tropical heaven.

But, like other popular destinations, the picturesque island has been suffering from its popularity.

Overtourism in Boracay, Philippines, has lead to a temporary closure of the whole island — ARTYOORAN / Shutterstock ban tourists
Overtourism in Boracay, Philippines, has lead to a temporary closure of the whole island — ARTYOORAN / Shutterstock

In 2017 alone, more than two million tourists visited the location and the island’s infrastructure is unable to cope.

This has led to the governmental decision, that from April 26, Boracay will stop welcoming tourists for the period of six months.

On 9 February, the president of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte – a man who has gained a reputation around the world for his straightforward language and actions – announced his decision to close the island to foreigners.

“I will close Boracay. Boracay is a cesspool,” he told a business forum in his southern home city of Davao.

“You go into the water, it’s smelly. Smell of what? S***. Because it all comes out in Boracay,” he said.

The sewage issue has turned out to be one of the main reasons local authorities called for the ban.

 

Boracay Island, Aklan 📸 @chriztiandeleon #comeseeph

A post shared by Come See The Philippines 🇵🇭 (@comeseephilippines) on

Tourism Secretary spokesman Ricky Alegre said a number of establishments drained their sewage directly into the sea.

“There are certain areas there [where] some establishments have illegally tapped their sewage line into the water line,” Alegre told AFP.

“It’s a shame that Boracay, which has repeatedly been recognised by prestigious travel magazines as the world’s most beautiful island, may yet end up a paradise lost if water contamination continues,” Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo said in a statement.

Once the island is closed, local and foreign tourists will be blocked at the mainland ferry port.  

The airports of Caticlan and Kalibo will continue operating. However, Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific Air have both confirmed they will offer refunds and rebooking once government issues a clarification of the closure.

The closure of Boracay follows a similar action in Thailand, where the authorities decided to close the Maya Bay beach to protect its marine life.