Published on : Friday, October 12, 2018
The popular tourist destination was shut to visitors after President Duterte visited Boracay and was reportedly outraged by “environmental violations” that had left the island a “cesspool”. After an initial six-month clean up, government officials have confirmed Boracay will have a “soft opening”, with only certain hotels allowed to operate, offering around 5,000 beds in total.
President Duterte said the aim is to make the island, which previously attracted two million visitors a year – more than 17,000 of them from the United Kingdom – more appealing to families and couples, rather than hard partiers.
Rebranding as “a haven for health wellness, soft adventure and authentic Filipino cuisine”, Boracay still has a way to go before its full rehab is complete.
Romulo-Puyat said that six months is not enough to try to bring back the natural splendour of Boracay, regarded by many as one of the best beach destinations in the world. There are three phases to the plan – phase one ends on 26 October, phase two will follow on immediately, and phase three is due to be completed by the end of 2019. Romulo-Puyat added that it is a long and arduous process, but if there is one thing we are going to guarantee our trade partners and our visitors, you will all surely experience a ‘better Boracay’ In the meantime the Department of Tourism has been promoting other Philippines destinations, including the islands of Palawan and Cebu. The tiny island of Boracay, just four miles long and less than a mile wide, is the latest in a string of high profile victims of over-tourism.
It closed in June 2018 due to the damage excessive numbers of tourists were doing to the local ecosystem, including coral reefs. The plan was for the beach to reopen in October 2018, but experts say the bay has not recovered sufficiently yet.