Mass tourism has struck again. Its latest victim is Boracay, a beautiful, four-square-mile island located in the Philippines that has become very popular with visitors looking for beautiful beaches and some of the clearest waters in the world.
According to the Philippine Information Agency, the number of visitors increased by 14 percent between January and October 2017. During these 10 months, 1,669,751 tourists visited Boracay, i.e. 203,005 more compared to 2016’s figure during the same period.
This significant rise, despite being financially beneficial to the island, has turned this gorgeous spot into a health and environmental nightmare. AFP goes so far as to say that Boracay is “drowning in faeces” and President Rodrigo Duterte is calling it a “cesspool”.
Frederick M. Alegre from the Department of Tourism said that “out of the 150 Boracay business establishments recently inspected by the government, only 25 were connected to the sewage line.” The rest dumped the raw sewage directly into the water.
Condé Nast Traveler, who had awarded Boracay The Best Island in the World title in 2017, mentions other issues facing Boracay: “traffic congestion, insufficient solid waste management, illegal construction, property disputes, illegal fishing…to name a few.”
Despite objections from those whose pockets get filled thanks to the flow of visitors, the island is will be closing to tourists (foreign and domestic) on April 26th for a period of 6 months during which, among other projects, a more comprehensive sewage system should be implemented.
Although closing the island means canceling the vacations of hundreds of thousands of people, and putting the locals who live off tourism in a precarious situation, if nothing is done, Boracay will turn into a spot that no one will ever want to visit.