The Phillipino island paradise of Boracay is set to reopen to tourists next month, but travellers are being warned to expect major changes.
Authorities announced the island would be closed to tourists for six months, starting April 26 this year.
The closure was 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.
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.
Last week, Philippines Secretary of Tourism Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said the country may impose tentative arrival limits, a curfew and a single-use plastic ban among other measures.
“We expect only 6,200 tourists [in Boracay] per day only, and 98 per cent of them to come via air,” she said, according to Conde Nast Traveler.
Before the closure, the island attracted up to 70,000 visitors at a time in peak periods.
Puyat said the department is also in talks with airlines to reduce flights to Caticlan and Kalibo airports, which are the closest entry points to the island.
She also hinted that the Boracay’s famous beach parties may now be banned.
“It won’t be like a party place anymore,” she said.
“We want it to be more as it is, we want it to be more peaceful. We want to promote sustainable tourism.”
The secretary for the environment, Roy Cimatu said people can still party within establishments but not on the beach, according to News Corp.
Cimatu also said the government was looking at “safer alternatives” to the fire dancing displays usually held on the beach.
Puyat also said the government is looking at options for a possible curfew.
Single-use plastic will also be banned in hotels, resorts and restaurants, including the use of shampoo, conditioner and body wash containers, as per News Corp.