When it comes to idyllic, Instagram-worthy resort islands, the same few places come to mind.
Except you can strike the last place off the list.
Why? Because they’re closing down the entire island.
Here are 8 facts about the closure of Boracay Island you need to know.
1. “The island is a cesspool. It smells of S***.”
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte is known not to mince his words, and he always backs up his words.
On 9 Feb 2018, President Duterte said in a business forum that “Boracay is a cesspool.”
“You go into the water, it’s smelly. Smell of what? S***. Because it all comes out in Boracay,” he said.
He gave his Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu six months to clean it all up, or he’ll ban tourism from the island.
2. A Shutdown of Boracay = Loss of About 20% In Tourism Revenue
Boracay attracts more than two million tourists to the island every year. That equates to about 56 million pesos (S$1.43 million) in annual revenues.
This figure was calculated based on the first 9 months of 2017.
About 19,000 people work in the formal sector of tourism like hotels, resorts, restaurants and more.
An additional 17,000 work in the informal tourism sector like tattoo artists, vendors by the beach and masseurs.
Boracay is one of Philippines’ top 8 island destinations.
So there we are, thinking, aiya, won’t get ban tourism one lah.
Then, this happened.
3. Boracay To Close Down For 6 Months Clean-Up
Remember what I said about President Duterte being a man of his word?
Yup. It happened.
Two months after his ultimatum on February, he ordered for Boracay to be closed to tourists, according to reports on 4 Apr. It will start from 26 April 2018.
4. Businesses Disconnected From Sewage Lines, Illegally Tapping into Water Line
Some of the businesses are dumping sewage directly into the sea.
In a recent inspection by the government, it was found that only 25 out of 150 established businesses on the island were connected to the sewage line.
There are also areas where businesses even illegally tapped their sewage line into the water line.
The government said 300 businesses faced “evaluation” for sanitary or other offences.
51 were already given official warnings for breaking environmental regulations.
5. Enforcement is Necessary, According To Government Officials
In order to bring Boracay back to its pristine condition, “an iron fist is needed”, according to an official.
They’ll get airlines and ferries to suspend their Boracay services and made the beaches off limits.
The government deployed about 600 policemen to the island.
Drills including riot officers fighting against protesters and simulations of hostage situations took place in front of the islanders.
Locals speculate that the police are doing it to instill fear in the locals.
They have also started patrolling the beach, enforcing the rule that no one is allowed to swim in the sea except in a specially designated area.
The government said that the police are there to put down any unrest by people who are unhappy with the shutdown.
6. Boracay Foundation Says It’s “Unfair” and “Only Errant Businesses” Should Be Targetted
Boracay Foundation says that the closure should be partial and not islandwide.
Also, the government should have close the island to tourists during the lean months from September to October.
Instead of during the peak season between April to June.
7. Shutdown is imminent but should’ve been given more time before carrying out
Surprise, surprise. Businesses on the island and locals are actually happy that the government is doing something about the situation on the island.
What they’re not really happy about, however, is that they’re not given much time to settle their affairs before the closure takes effect.
“It’s long overdue that the attention of the national government is on us, because we’ve been asking for help for so many years to look at the problems in Boracay,” says Nanette Graf, the owner of the Boracay Beach Resort and president of the Boracay Foundation.
They also felt that the government’s plan to clean up the mess in 6-months is too ambitious.
It’s more than just the sewage that needed addressing.
The roads, the traffic, the setbacks, there are a lot of things that has to be done during this period.
Overall, they felt that this needs to be done, though, despite their worries if tourists will come back to the island after it reopens.
8. The Government had set aside money for the clean up, including temporary employment for island’s residents
In case you missed it, 34,000 people working in the tourism sector of Boracay are in trouble.
The government has offered these people temporary employment as cleanup crews earning P300 per day.
They’ve set aside P2.5 billion to fund temporary employment for the people.
Other than that, they’ll spend P1.1 billion to build a sewage and waste water facility, as well as P29 million to restore forests and wetlands.
The “reserved seat” has been abused by people who seek validation in their lives. Agree or disagree?
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