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This Popular Tourist Island May Temporarily Shut Down Because Tourists Ruined It

Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte described Boracay as a "cesspool".

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This is Boracay Island, the most popular tourist destination in the Philippines.

In 2017 Boracay had over two million visitors, about half domestic and half international.
Max Shen / Getty Images

In 2017 Boracay had over two million visitors, about half domestic and half international.

Recently, the Philippine government announced it plans to close Boracay to visitors so it can undertake environmental rehabilitation.

The Philippine Department of Environment and Natural Resources, The Department of Tourism, and the Department of Interior and Local Government have recommended a six-month closure of the island due to poor solid waste management, solid waste contamination of the beach, and illegal constructions. President Rodrigo Duterte and the House of Representatives tourism committee have supported the recommendation, and plans are underway to ban domestic and foreign tourists from the island from April 26. A final decision is expected on April 5.
Jason Langley / Getty Images

The Philippine Department of Environment and Natural Resources, The Department of Tourism, and the Department of Interior and Local Government have recommended a six-month closure of the island due to poor solid waste management, solid waste contamination of the beach, and illegal constructions.

President Rodrigo Duterte and the House of Representatives tourism committee have supported the recommendation, and plans are underway to ban domestic and foreign tourists from the island from April 26. A final decision is expected on April 5.

But why is this necessary, you might wonder, at a destination known for idyllic tropical holidays?

Aside from the long expanse of white sand, Boracay is also popular for its parties and cheap drinks (or cheap anything for that matter). It's been dubbed the "Ibiza of Southeast Asia".
Michele Falzone / Getty Images

Aside from the long expanse of white sand, Boracay is also popular for its parties and cheap drinks (or cheap anything for that matter). It's been dubbed the "Ibiza of Southeast Asia".

Lately though, paradise has looked a little...green.

This slimy algae has become a common sight on the beach during the summer months. Studies have linked this phenomenon to poor sewage management and a lack of regulation among resorts and establishments on the island.The bacteria found in the green algae on the beach called "coliform" is the same bacteria found in human waste. The increase in algal blooms year after year indicates that the water has been contaminated by waste that wasn't treated properly.
Van Jasper Tan / Instagram / Via instagram.com

This slimy algae has become a common sight on the beach during the summer months. Studies have linked this phenomenon to poor sewage management and a lack of regulation among resorts and establishments on the island.

The bacteria found in the green algae on the beach called "coliform" is the same bacteria found in human waste. The increase in algal blooms year after year indicates that the water has been contaminated by waste that wasn't treated properly.

The summer season is also when Boracay's environment takes the worst beating.

Summer in the Philippines is from March to May. During this Easter's Holy Week long weekend the local tourism board is expecting over 58,000 visitors.

Duterte has described the once-pristine beaches of Boracay as a "cesspool".

Instagram: @veronicaleahyu

Last year, following the island's most popular party event during the Labor Day weekend in May, 10,000 kilos of rubbish were collected from the beach.

Several groups have said the existing facilities on Boracay for processing waste are insufficient for the number of people visiting the island.

Meanwhile, it's reported that another popular island destination in Southeast Asia, Maya Bay in Thailand, may be shutting down temporarily or limiting tourist arrivals.

The destination became famous around the world after Leonardo DiCaprio's movie The Beach. It now receives an average of 200 boats and 4,000 visitors per day.
20th Century Fox / Getty Images

The destination became famous around the world after Leonardo DiCaprio's movie The Beach. It now receives an average of 200 boats and 4,000 visitors per day.

Drastic moves to mitigate tourism overcrowding isn't a new thing.

Another island in Thailand, Koh Tachai, is under indefinite shutdown because it couldn't cope with the crowds. Cinque Terre in Italy has started issuing tickets to tourists wanting to visit the coastal town. And Palau in the Pacific is getting visitors to sign a pledge to preserve its environment during their stay.
Rilindh / Getty Images

Another island in Thailand, Koh Tachai, is under indefinite shutdown because it couldn't cope with the crowds. Cinque Terre in Italy has started issuing tickets to tourists wanting to visit the coastal town. And Palau in the Pacific is getting visitors to sign a pledge to preserve its environment during their stay.

A six-month tourist ban on Boracay might help the island's ecosystem breathe a little bit, but environmental groups said a shutdown isn't enough.

WWF-Philippines released a statement following reports of the shutdown: "The closure of Boracay will be incumbent upon addressing the issue of restoring the natural systems and mitigating tourism and/or domestic activities that cause damage to the environment."
Instagram: @lolabansiang / Via instagram.com

WWF-Philippines released a statement following reports of the shutdown: "The closure of Boracay will be incumbent upon addressing the issue of restoring the natural systems and mitigating tourism and/or domestic activities that cause damage to the environment."