Destinations

Philippines closes popular tourist island

The popular tourist destination of Boracay will be closing for six months to prevent further environmental damage.

Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque announced the island would be closed to tourists starting April 26, reports CNN.

The closure has been attributed to the island’s famous beaches and clear blue waters transformation into a “cesspool” of environmental damage.

The island is home to around 17,000 people who are directly engaged in the tourism industry, but the government said “calamity funds” would provide financial relief to those affected, said CNN.

1.7 million tourists visited the island last year, over a ten month period.

The huge volume of tourists has led to a number of issues for the island, including unregulated sewerage systems that empty directly into the sea.

“As long as there is shit coming out of those pipes draining to the sea, I will never give you the time of the day (to return),” said Philippines president Roderigo Duterte in February.

“We describe (Boracay) as a world-class island destination with poor services,” Tourism Undersecretary Ricky Alegre told CNN.

“And we wish to upgrade the services.

“We must swallow the bitter pill, and see this solution as one step backward and two steps forward.”

“We want to continue to promote the Philippines as a beautiful destination — and want to add that our destinations are environmentally compliant.”

AirAsia has announced changes in its schedule in line with the closure, and said in a release travellers affected by these changes would be notified by email or SMS.

The airline will also mount additional flight to popular leisure destinations Palawan, Bohol, Cebu, and Davao in the Philippines.

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