The world-famous Boracay Island in the Philippines is scheduled to reopen in October after the government assessment of compliance by businesses and residents met environmental standards.
Recognized by international travelers for its white sandy beaches and famed tourist nightlife, Boracay had regained the title of World’s Best Island in 2016 and repeated its feat in 2017 before the government ordered its closure in April 2018 and enforced a 6-month rehabilitation of the tourist destination’s waters and land use.
The rehabilitation was led by the Department of Environmental of Natural Resources (DENR) which created the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force (BIATF). The BIATF then commissioned researchers from the Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau and the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB), among other agencies, to make recommendations for the reopening.
The BIATF has announced the reopening of Boracay in 2 phases:
- October 15-25, 2018 only to local tourists, with priority for the people of Aklan
- October 26, 2018 opening to both local and foreign tourists.
GNP identified the new ways to enjoy Boracay amidst the conditions of stricter measures and enforcement to keep the gains of the rehabilitation program:
1. Enjoying the Philippine island at its natural state. The new Boracay will no longer have the frenzied beach parties (parties can be held in hotels instead) and this means visitors can now fully enjoy and immerse in the natural landscape and sights of the beach, the waters, and the sky – for better relaxation.
2. Smell the air, see the azure waters for good. The rehab work on the island discovered and closed down illegal sewage systems dumping untreated waste into the island’s waters and causing water pollution and stinky odors. The government agency has now declared the problem fixed and people can now breathe fresh air and swim in the clean waters.
3. Fewer tourists means more beach space. The government is enforcing a limit to the number of tourists and worker-residents following the result of the research which identified the maximum carrying capacity of the island. Only 19,125 tourists are allowed on the island on a daily basis. This limit means a tourist gets to enjoy more space on the powdery beach and more breathing room to enjoy the island’s amenities.
4. Less number of hotel rooms mean better services. As the government reduced hotel room accommodation to 1,000 rooms during the dry run from October 15-25, this allows visitors to receive more care and attention from island staff.
5. More chances to get to know Boracay local culture. The new guidelines also suspended diving and water sports but this means tourists can have more time to explore the island with less-congested roads and meet its local residents and more of the world-renowned Filipino warmth and positivity.
6. Carefully selected businesses who care for Boracay. Stringent measures for establishments to reopen at Boracay have allowed only businesses who care for the protection of the island to remain in business. This means your money spent on their products and services are indeed money well spent.
7. Sustainable tourism gives everyone more chances to enjoy nature. The reopening of Boracay is seen by the country’s tourism officials as a model for sustainable tourism measures which can be adopted in other tourist destinations. The island can now also hold the distinction of being a model for sustainable development while being a popular tourist spot.
The BIATF released the reopening guidelines after research revealed the carrying capacity of the island has been breached which caused the generation of too much waste and deterioration of water quality.
The BIATF has expressed its request for legislation to be passed in Congress to preserve the gains of the Boracay rehabilitation.
Join the excitement and watch this teaser video about the Boracay reopening:
With reports from John Carlo M. Navarro