Boracay, the Philippines island paradise fighting against tourism ruin, set to reopen

Attracting 6,400 tourists daily, Filipino island Boracay suddenly closed its doors to tourists four months ago. After tourism became too much to handle for the small island, issues such as environmental damage, illegal construction and “insufficient waste management” were having a huge impact. Taking drastic measures, the Philippines Department of Tourism closed the island for six months whilst they put more sustainable measures in place.

Earlier this month, the Philippines Department of Tourism confirmed that the island will reopen this October, saying, “a better and more sustainable Boracay is set to welcome back visitors on October 26.” However, before you begin to pack your Speedos and don your sunglasses, there are a few things to note.

“October is only a soft opening… how can you rehabilitate an island under a state of calamity in only six months?” Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, secretary of the department of tourism, told The Philippine Daily Inquirer. “We are managing expectations. It will be open but don’t expect all the roads to be completed.” Five thousand hotel rooms will be ready by October 26, according to Romulo-Puyat, but overall, Boracay isn’t expected to fully be rehabilitated until the end of 2019.

It is not yet sure how many flights in and out it will be limiting tourists to or how many will be allowed on the island. However, it is very easy to see why the closure was required after it was described as a ‘cesspool’ due to tourism impact:

Local authorities are keen to ensure that hotels and roads are of standard, Boracay is adding stringent rules in regards to its beaches. There will be “no drinking or smoking” permitted on its sandy beaches. And as well as this there will be no casinos, putting an end to some earlier rumours.

It seems that Boracay is working hard to rid itself of the image of a party island, even putting a stop to its “LaBorcay weekend” over Labor Day celebrations which drew 60,000 to 70,000 holidaymakers to the island each year. We feel this is a positive stance that Boracay is taking and one that a lot of other small islands would do right to follow suit and return to their former glory.

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