After 6 months of rehabilitation, the popular island of Boracay is once again open to tourists and vacationers starting today, October 26. However, the island, once known as a party destination, will be implementing new policies to restrict the negative environmental impacts of tourism and prevent the degradation of the water and beaches.
Boracay measures a mere 1,000 hectares, yet was consistently rated as one of the top beach destinations in the world. At its peak, the island would see up to 40,000 visitors daily. Yet the unprecedented growth and unchecked management of the island led it to grow polluted. Earlier this year, Boracay was described as a “cesspool”, with alarming levels of coliform and bacteria in the water systems and along the shore. The advanced state of environmental damage prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to order the shutdown of the island’s tourism industry for 6 months to allow for extensive rehabilitation. Drain water systems, which previously leaked directly into the ocean, were corrected. Water sanitation standards have been strictly implemented as well.
Following the 6 month rehabilitation, water quality testing in Boracay shows marked improvement, with samples passing all DENR criteria for their appropriate water use.
A total of 157 establishments, including hotels, received accreditation from the Department of Tourism and the Boracay Inter-Agency Taskforce in time for today’s opening. Only these establishments, who are compliant with the parameters outlined by the DENR for operations in Boracay, are allowed to receive guests.
Smoking and littering will be strictly monitored on the island. Citizens will also be deputized to arrest anyone caught violating anti-littering rules. Fines and imprisonment await violators. Single-use plastics will also be limited on the island.
Under the new rules, only 19,200 tourists will be allowed on the island at any one time. Tourists must also present their accommodation bookings before flying into the island.
A dry-run for the reopening was conducted starting October 10. Some 1,300 visitors came to the island during this period.