“You go into the water, it’s smelly. Smell of what? S***. Because it all comes out in Boracay,” said President Rodrigo Duterte, during his visit to the island in February.
From 26 April onwards, the island will be closed for 6 months due to heavy pollution.
Boracay Island was featured as one of the top 25 islands in the world, as well as one of Asia’s top 10 island destinations on TripAdvisor in 2017.
Following which, tourists have flocked to the island, generating an annual revenue of 56 billion pesos.
The closure of Boracay will affect the island’s main source of income, which is tourism. There are around 500 hotels and 17 000 employees, as well as the 19 000 vendors on the island.
The pollution is believed to be caused by establishments such as hotels, restaurants and businesses that are situated too close to the beaches. Duterte claims that these establishments are to be blamed for polluting the beach.
“I will charge you for serious neglect of duty [for] making Boracay a fishpond or a sewer pool,” Duterte said. “Either [you] clean it up or I will close it permanently. There will be a time that no more foreigners will go there.”
Of the 150 establishments in the area, only 25 of them have been connected to the sewage line. Many establishments have instead tapped their sewage line into the water line, draining waste into the sea.
Due to the closure, AirAsia will have to make changes to flight schedules on bookings made during the period of Boracay’s closure.
Visitors who have bookings between 26 April 2018 to 16 October 2018 will be notified of these changes through email and SMS. Affected visitors can choose to change their destination, move flight dates, retain credit for future use, or get a full refund.