Officials say the Philippines’ favorite holiday island will be more sustainable following its six-month cleanup.
In February, Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte lambasted the island’s hotels, restaurants, and other tourism-related businesses, accusing them of having dumped sewage directly into the sea. He said this turned the island into a “cesspool.”
The Philippines Department of Tourism confirmed the island’s reopening, stating that “a better and more sustainable Boracay is set to welcome back visitors.”
“October is only a soft opening… how can you rehabilitate an island under a state of calamity in only six months?” Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, the department’s secretary, told The Philippine Daily Inquirer, a Manila-based newspaper.
“We are managing expectations. It will be open but don’t expect all the roads to be completed.”
According to Romulo-Puyat, five thousand hotel rooms will be ready by October 26, although the island won’t be fully rehabilitated until the end of 2019.
Travelers should also take note that the “no drinking or smoking” rule for white beaches will be more strictly enforced and no casinos will be allowed on the island.
In addition, the island seems to be shedding its party culture — the popular “Laboracay” Labor Day weekend celebrations that draws an average of 60,000 to 70,000 visitors to the island each year will be shelved.