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Boracay reopens with new rules: Will it still be a fun place?

07 November 2018


After six months of “rehabilitation, Boracay Island has re-opened. Tourists have landed by the boatload on the popular beach destination that re-opened with a set of new rules.

President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the closure of the tiny white-sand island in April, declaring it a “cesspool” where businesses flushed raw sewage into the once pristine turquoise waters and trash soiled in beaches.
Several hotels and restaurants were ordered to stay closed because they did not meet standards, while just fewer than 160 tourism-related businesses have been approved to re-open.

Tourists were greeted with new restrictions that cap the number of visitors as well as a beachside boozing ban and efforts to build up island infrastructure. Among the new rules is the limit on the number of visitors to 19,200 tourists on the island at any one time, with the government aiming to enforce that by controlling the number of available hotel rooms.
Drinking and smoking are banned and the huge multi-day beach parties dubbed “LaBoracay” that drew tens of thousands of tourists during the May 1 Labor Day weekend will be a thing of the past.

Once a quiet hideaway favored by backpackers, Boracay was transformed by overdevelopment into a mass destination seeing some 2 million visitors per year.
The beachfront is cleared of the masseuses, vendors, bonfires and even the builders of its famous photo-op sandcastles it was once crowded with.

All watersports save for swimming are also banned for the time being, while Boracay’s three casinos have been permanently shut down in line with Duterte’s wishes.

Buildings were bulldozed and businesses pushed back to create a 30 – meter (98-foot) buffer zone from the waterline.
Away from the water the sound of machinery and hammering echoed in the air as resorts made improvements to meet new requirements and crews toiled away on a widened main road.

Boracay, which major tourist magazines consistently rate as among the world’s best beaches, measures a mere 1,000 hectares. Yet it saw up to 40,000 sun worshippers at peak times, with tourists spending $1 billion a year but also leaving mountains of garbage and an overflowing sewer system.

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