Philippines' Boracay Island Will Be Closed For 6 Months Because It’s Too Polluted

Angered by the environmental damage, Duterte announced Boracay’s closure starting from 26 April onwards.

Cover image via Philippineslifestyle

The Philippines government will be closing its best-known holiday destination, Boracay for the following six months to fix the pollution and rapid development damages of the island

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said on Wednesday that the closure will start from 26 April onwards. Following his visit to the island in February, President Rodrigo Duterte described it as a "cesspool".

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

In 2017, TripAdvisor ranked Boracay as one of the top 25 best islands in the world and as one of Asia’s top 10 islands

The island was reported to have attracted two million tourists last year bringing in a combined annual revenue of 56 billion pesos (roughly RM4.43 billion).

One of Boracay's main source of income is from their tourism industry. With 500 hotels and 17,000 employees, the closure is said to affect many jobs. In addition, 19,000 others include vendors, tattoo parlours, tour activity centers, transport providers, beach masseuses, and other tourist-related activities.

The decision questions the livelihood of many people in the tourist industry.

Image via SCMP

However, Duterte said that the hotels, restaurants and businesses are the ones to blame for dumping waste into the island’s pristine white sandy beaches and clear waters

Many establishments were said to have been built too close to the beaches. A number of establishments drain their sewage directly into the sea, said Department spokesman Ricky Alegre. “There are certain areas there (where) … some establishments have illegally tapped their sewage line into the water line,” Alegre said.

Out of the 150 Boracay business establishments recently inspected by the government, only 25 were observed to have been connected to the sewage line, he added.

I will charge you for serious neglect of duty [for] making Boracay a fishpond or a sewer pool," Duterte said. “Either [you] clean it up or I will close it permanently. There will be a time that no more foreigners will go there.

One of the sewage pipes on Bulabog beach.

Image via Jes Aznar/The New York Times

Following the news of the unexpected closure, AirAsia will be making changes to the flight schedules for visitors who have booked their tickets to Boracay within those six months

Additional flights will be added to popular leisure destinations Palawan, Bohol, Cebu, and Davao in the Philippines.

Guests who are affected by the changes and who hold flight bookings from 26 April to 26 October 2018 will be notified via email and SMS.

They will be able to choose one from the following service recovery options: change destination, move flight date, retain credit account for future use or get a full refund.

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In the meantime, here are other beautiful places in the Philippines you can visit instead:

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