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Popular tourism island may close to clear pollution

March 16, 2018 Headline News No Comments Email Email

The most popular island in the Philippines is likely to close for two months to recover from serious pollution, leaving airlines to work out how to amend their flight schedules and offer booked travellers new destinations or refunds.

The island is Borocay, famous for its fabulous pristine white sand beaches. AirAsia, which serves the island, is watching the situation closely. Airlines are waiting for the Philippines’ final travel decree naming the dates when the island will be closed.

Last month, the Philippines’ colourful president, Rodrigo Duterte, condemned the island’s environmental problems and threatened to close it down if they weren’t fixed.

“I will close Boracay. Boracay is a cesspool,” Duterte said in a speech during a business forum on February in Davao City.

Borocay was due to be closed from April to June 2018 but the dates are not confirmed. Some reports put the closure as later this year. No-one quite knows what the dates are and the uncertainty is causing problems for tourism, as bookings require confirmation.

The Philippine travel industry is hoping for a reprieve from the closure.

The Boracay everyone loves

The government wants to rehabilitate the island from what one report called “severe environmental degradation caused by wanton violation of building rules and regulations”.

Philippine Tour Operators Association president, Cesar Cruz, says closing Boracay would have disastrous implications for the island’s reputation as an iconic destination. He says a closure would severely affect the tourism industry and make potential visitors feel other destinations in the country were unsafe, dirty or hazardous.

Experts say overcrowding, garbage and water pollution are just some of the environmental issues facing Boracay, which is located in the Western Visayas region of the Philippines.

About 2 million visitors a year visit the island and the number is steadily rising.

Written by Peter Needham

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