EARLIER this year, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the closure of the paradise island of Boracay, one of the Southeast Asian country’s major tourist destinations.
This was to allow for a massive clean-up following Duterte’s comments about it being a “cesspool” that smelled of “s**t” due to sewage dumped into the sea and buildings constructed too close to the shore.
Boracay island saw the last of its travellers enjoying their holiday on April 26, 2018, before the tourist ban was enforced.
Located off the northern tip of the central island of Panay, Boracay, with its pristine white sand beaches and crystal blue waters, sees more than a million tourists and an estimated US$772.5 million in revenue every year.
The treasured island attracted nearly two million visitors last year, close to half of whom are foreigners. It is especially popular with Chinese and South Korean tourists.
The closure led to airline companies such as AirAsia suspending all flights to the destination, offering instead other alternatives and service recovery options. Hotels and resorts on the island scrambled to attend to guests with affected bookings.
The hiatus also affected restaurants, cafes, vendors, and other businesses on the island.
However, the rehabilitation period will soon come to an end and Boracay will once again be ready to receive tourists.
A ‘better Boracay’
The Philippines had boldly promised a “better Boracay”. But what does this translate to for tourists and businesses?
Firstly, authorities will limit the number of visitors setting foot on the island resort each day, Department of Environment and Natural Resources undersecretary Sherwin Rigor said.
On any given day, only 19,000 tourists and 15,000 workers will be allowed on the island.
Authorities will also be banning beachfront parties, as well as activities such as smoking and drinking, activities that used to run rampant on island.
Additionally, only half of the island’s 12,000 existing hotel rooms will be allowed to open each day to ensure the number of guests on the island is below its “carrying capacity” of 55,000.
The closure of Boracay weighed on gross domestic product in the second quarter as growth slowed to a near three-year low of 6 percent in April-June, Reuters reported.
The island will officially open to tourists on Oct 26, 2018.
This article first appeared on our sister website Travel Wire Asia.