Asia Minute: Tourism Experiment Moves to Next Level in the Philippines

Oct 26, 2018

Boracay Island, Philippines
Credit Joannerfabregas / Wikimedia Commons

An experiment in tourism management has reached a new stage. One of the most popular resorts in the Philippines has been closed for six months while workers cleaned the beaches. And now it’s open for business.

Boracay beach is now open to the public, but not quite as open as it used to be. The government of the Philippines has spent the last six months overseeing a cleanup of the resort area — which the country’s president Rodrigo Duterte called a “cesspool.”

There were problems with capacity and infrastructure — sewage was going into the ocean.

Government officials say that’s been cleaned up now – the Environment Secretary telling reporters Friday that the “fecal coliform level” has gone down “significantly.” That’s a bacteria associated with sewage.

Part of the next stage of the experiment is limiting visitor access — actually reducing the number of tourists.

Last year, 2.1 million people travelled to Boracay.

Now, the number of visitors will be capped — only 19, 215 allowed on the island at any given time. That means about 6,400 people will be allowed in each day, assuming an average stay of three days.

Boracay Island
Credit Alexey Komarov / Wikimedia Commons

Before the island was closed in April, Boracay had 525 hotels in operation — today nearly two-thirds of them remain closed. Those that have re-opened needed to prove they are in compliance with the Clean Water and Clean Air acts — as well as garbage disposal laws.

The government says the rehabilitation of the island is ongoing, and should be completed by the end of next year.