In less than three weeks, the Philippines’ world famous Boracay Island will close for up to six months.
The closure has been ordered by the country’s President, Rodrigo Duterte, on the recommendation that the island shut down to tackle environmental woes.
Named World’s Best Island by Conde Nast Traveller and rated among the top islands by others, Boracay is famed for its crystal clear waters and palm-lined, white sand beaches.
But growing visitor arrivals have taken their toll on Boracay’s eco-system, to the point where a special task force recommended its temporary closure to facilitate an easier clean-up of the island, The Manila Times reported.
Interior and Local Government Assistant Secretary Epimaco Densing III said a “soft opening” of the enhanced island might be possible in three to four months.
Conversely, Tourism Assistant Secretary Frederick Alegre thinks the six-month closure may not be enough for its full rehabilitation, but said it would be a “good start”, the Times reported.
According to Mr Densing, half of the 948 illegal structures in the forestlands of Boracay would be dismantled during the island’s rehabilitation.
Meanwhile, Philippines Airlines (PAL) and Cebu Pacific have announced they will stop carrying Boracay-bound tourists for a six-month period beginning late April, but will continue to serve local residents.
PAL, which will add flights on other routes during the closure, backs the move.
“We fully support the government’s intention to make Boracay fully safe and environmentally friendly,” PAL President Jaime J. Bautista said.
“Sustainable development is of critical concern, and we are one with the laudable goal to revert the island to a balanced eco-tourism paradise.”
Having been to Boracay, we hope it's up and running again as soon as possible. What do you think of the idea to close a major destination like this?