Boracay island closes for tourists for six-months clean-up

Boracay sunset © Arno Maierbrugger

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte finally approved the suggested closure of the popular holiday island of Boracay in the central Philippines for tourists over six months to conduct a serious clean-up and improvement of infrastructure, particularly sewage pipes.

Duterte approved the recommendation by three government agencies to shut down Boracay, his spokesman Harry Roque told reporters late on April 4.

The closure is expected to cost the island’s tourism sector some $550 million in missed revenues. More than 36,000 hotel and resort workers, as well as waiters and waitresses, masseuses, tattoo artists, performers and vendors stand to lose their jobs for half a year, according to Boracay Foundation, a non-profit organisation on the island.

Airlines have advised their passengers that their bookings may be affected by the closure. Philippine Airlines has said it will refund customers, help them rebook or reroute affected flights. Cebu Pacific has similar offers.

Hearing local businesses lament over the shutdown, the Philippine government argues that tourism service providers, hotels and the local administration have to blame themselves for the situation.

Boracay’s degradation has been linked to the failure of the local government to enforce ordinances on marine conservation, garbage and sanitation, and zoning and construction, among others.

At least 300 hotels, resorts and inns have been ignoring an ordinance that requires them to build their own sewage and wastewater treatment facilities. They have instead been dumping waste into canals meant only for rainwater and surface overflow.

Such malpractices have led to an increase in the coliform bacteria level, which indicates fecal contamination and can cause diarrhea, in waters around Boracay, and longer episodes of algal bloom.

The closure will begin on April 26. The six-month period announced is the maximum period. If the clean-up of the island goes smoothly and can be sped up, there could be a “soft opening” of Boracay to tourists in three to four months, government officials said.

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Boracay sunset © Arno Maierbrugger

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte finally approved the suggested closure of the popular holiday island of Boracay in the central Philippines for tourists over six months to conduct a serious clean-up and improvement of infrastructure, particularly sewage pipes.

Boracay sunset © Arno Maierbrugger

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte finally approved the suggested closure of the popular holiday island of Boracay in the central Philippines for tourists over six months to conduct a serious clean-up and improvement of infrastructure, particularly sewage pipes.

Duterte approved the recommendation by three government agencies to shut down Boracay, his spokesman Harry Roque told reporters late on April 4.

The closure is expected to cost the island’s tourism sector some $550 million in missed revenues. More than 36,000 hotel and resort workers, as well as waiters and waitresses, masseuses, tattoo artists, performers and vendors stand to lose their jobs for half a year, according to Boracay Foundation, a non-profit organisation on the island.

Airlines have advised their passengers that their bookings may be affected by the closure. Philippine Airlines has said it will refund customers, help them rebook or reroute affected flights. Cebu Pacific has similar offers.

Hearing local businesses lament over the shutdown, the Philippine government argues that tourism service providers, hotels and the local administration have to blame themselves for the situation.

Boracay’s degradation has been linked to the failure of the local government to enforce ordinances on marine conservation, garbage and sanitation, and zoning and construction, among others.

At least 300 hotels, resorts and inns have been ignoring an ordinance that requires them to build their own sewage and wastewater treatment facilities. They have instead been dumping waste into canals meant only for rainwater and surface overflow.

Such malpractices have led to an increase in the coliform bacteria level, which indicates fecal contamination and can cause diarrhea, in waters around Boracay, and longer episodes of algal bloom.

The closure will begin on April 26. The six-month period announced is the maximum period. If the clean-up of the island goes smoothly and can be sped up, there could be a “soft opening” of Boracay to tourists in three to four months, government officials said.

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