An island in the Philippines that has the kind of powdery white beaches and
See-your-feet-clear water that inspires island cliches. It topped the Readers’ Choice Awards list of best island in the world in 2017. Unfortunately, the tiny stretch of sand—just under four square miles—is a victim of its own growing popularity. With 2.1 million tourists arriving in 2017 alone (spending more than $1 billion), Boracay now has to contend with environmental degradation, traffic congestion, insufficient solid waste management, illegal construction, property disputes, illegal fishing…to name a few.
In February, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte called the island a ” cesspool “-Ouch. “I’ll give you six months,” he told Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu. So, how do you actually “close” an island? Although residents will be allowed to come and go, both local and foreign tourists will be blocked at the mainland ferry port starting in April. The nearby airports of Caticlan and Kalibo will continue operating as they are located on the mainland, but Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific Air have both confirmed they will offer refunds and re booking. However, they’ve held back details of the refund policy while awaiting the government’s clarification on the closure. A cabinet meeting scheduled, should bring final word.
Prior to the announcement, Boracay was already making headlines when the government approved the approval of a 250-room, $500 million hotel-casino on the already stressed island. The DENR has only been researching Boracay’s ecosystem and tourism’s impact on it for a decade, and new research this year is expected to help to determine the island’s “carrying capacity,” or the maximum number of people the island and its infrastructure can support, all at once.
While a six-month tourist ban for Boracay may mean hundreds of thousands of interrupted or canceled airline, hotel, and activity plans and an untold amount of lost revenue for local businesses, the alternative—running Boracay into the ground until travelers eventually move on to greener (or, rather, cleaner) destinations—isn’t worth considering…wow.
Article credit: Cynthia Drescher
Photo credit: Wikipedia