Philippines tourist island Boracay reopens, but beach party times are over

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Boracay beach © Arno Maierbrugger

After a thorough six-month clean-up, the popular holiday island of Boracay in the central Philippines that was once dubbed a “cesspool” is to have a soft opening on October 26. The island, known for its pristine white sand, was closed last April on President Rodrigo Duterte’s orders due to environmental degradation.

Visitors will be subject to a set of stringent rules to avoid the island paradise from returning to the state that led to its closure. These include an overnight visitor cap of 19,000, a ban on smoking and drinking on the beaches and a temporary restriction on all water sports. Beach parties are banned but partying will still be allowed only within establishments,

The Department of Tourism said that so far it has accredited 68 hotels and resorts with a total of 3,519 rooms – out of the 15,000 rooms on the island on record. Only hotels that have complied with regulations are allowed to resume operation. The total room capacity on the island will be reduced to as few as 6,000.

Casinos will also be banned, apparently scrapping plans for a $500-million complex funded by Chinese firm Galaxy Entertainment. The building of giant sand castles will also be regulated. Souvenir shops and electric lights will be prohibited on the beachfront, and there will be a restriction on firework displays after 9pm. The hot-coal roasting of meats will be no longer allowed.

Single-use plastics will also be banned from the island, with any hotel, resort or restaurant caught breaching the policy three times to lose its license. Visitors have been told to “bring your own straw”, and that plastic bags will be prohibited.

Authorities have said that issues with the sewage infrastructure – which led to the “cesspool” description – have been resolved, with bacteria levels in the water on a par with international standards. There are, however, still road repairs taking place.

The island’s closure last year left many workers unemployed. The full rehabilitation of ports, roads, sewage, drainage and other facilities will continue until December 2019, tourism secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat said.

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

Boracay beach © Arno Maierbrugger

After a thorough six-month clean-up, the popular holiday island of Boracay in the central Philippines that was once dubbed a “cesspool” is to have a soft opening on October 26. The island, known for its pristine white sand, was closed last April on President Rodrigo Duterte’s orders due to environmental degradation.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Boracay beach © Arno Maierbrugger

After a thorough six-month clean-up, the popular holiday island of Boracay in the central Philippines that was once dubbed a “cesspool” is to have a soft opening on October 26. The island, known for its pristine white sand, was closed last April on President Rodrigo Duterte’s orders due to environmental degradation.

Visitors will be subject to a set of stringent rules to avoid the island paradise from returning to the state that led to its closure. These include an overnight visitor cap of 19,000, a ban on smoking and drinking on the beaches and a temporary restriction on all water sports. Beach parties are banned but partying will still be allowed only within establishments,

The Department of Tourism said that so far it has accredited 68 hotels and resorts with a total of 3,519 rooms – out of the 15,000 rooms on the island on record. Only hotels that have complied with regulations are allowed to resume operation. The total room capacity on the island will be reduced to as few as 6,000.

Casinos will also be banned, apparently scrapping plans for a $500-million complex funded by Chinese firm Galaxy Entertainment. The building of giant sand castles will also be regulated. Souvenir shops and electric lights will be prohibited on the beachfront, and there will be a restriction on firework displays after 9pm. The hot-coal roasting of meats will be no longer allowed.

Single-use plastics will also be banned from the island, with any hotel, resort or restaurant caught breaching the policy three times to lose its license. Visitors have been told to “bring your own straw”, and that plastic bags will be prohibited.

Authorities have said that issues with the sewage infrastructure – which led to the “cesspool” description – have been resolved, with bacteria levels in the water on a par with international standards. There are, however, still road repairs taking place.

The island’s closure last year left many workers unemployed. The full rehabilitation of ports, roads, sewage, drainage and other facilities will continue until December 2019, tourism secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat said.

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