The Philippines is About to Close Boracay to Tourists for Six Months

President Rodrigo Duterte has called the popular island a “cesspool.”

Boracay is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Asia, topping the list of the world's best islands in the Condé Nast Traveler Readers' Choice Awards. The island saw a record 1.7 million visitors in 2017, many coming from cruise ships passengers and crews.

A crowded beach on Boracay in the Philippines
A crowded beach on Boracay in the PhilippinesShutterstock

But now it seems that the island can't handle the influx. According to CNN, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque says the six-month closure will begin on April 26, part of a larger cleanup project.

In February, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte called the island and surrounding ocean a “cesspool,” stating mismanagement of the sewage facilities in particular. CNN reports:

Among the problems caused by the island’s long-running tourism boom is unregulated development and pipes carrying raw effluence directly into the sea. In a survey of the island's sewerage facilities, the vast majority — 716 of 834 — residential and business properties were found to have no discharge permit and were presumed to be draining waste water directly into the sea, according to a report by the official Philippines News Agency.

In February, over 50 hotels and restaurants were given notices after failing to comply with the country's water treatment laws, according to CNN. While the businesses will remain open during the closure, tourists will not be allowed on the island.

Local shops and bars on Boracay's White Beach
Local shops and bars on Boracay's White BeachShutterstock

The closure is set to affect as many as 17,000 island residents, many of whom rely on tourism for their livelihood. (Islands named Boracay as one the best and most affordable islands to live on in 2016.) CNN reports that the local sentiment had been "clean (but) not close," quoting resident, Civi Civitarese.

We sincerely hope the closure will fix these necessary issues, and ensure the island maintains its status as one of the most beautiful islands in the world.