No longer cesspool: Boracay to reopen to tourists on Oct. 26

Now that it's 'no longer a cesspool,' Philippine government plans to reopen Baracay Island to tourists on Oct. 26

Boracay white sand beach.

Boracay white sand beach. (By Wikimedia Commons)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- After being closed off to tourists in April for being what Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte called a "cesspool," Boracay Island, the Philippines' top tourist destination is slated to reopen to tourists on Oct. 26.

During a meeting held by the House Committee on Natural Resources on Wednesday (July 11), Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu, announced that Boracay would officially reopen to the general public on Oct. 26, reported GMA News. Emphasizing that cleanup efforts have been successful, and the reopening of the resort is on schedule, Cimatu said, "Categorically, I am telling you that Boracay is no longer a cesspool."

Environment Assistant Secretary Joan Lagunda during the meeting listed seven key objectives set by the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force to rehabilitate the island, including "providing social safety nets through training, livelihood and employment assistance, ensuring the health and sanitation of Boracay Island, as well as decongesting it," according to GMA News.

Lagunda listed additional efforts carried out by the task force thus far, including improving traffic conditions, stepping up law enforcement, launching a domestic and global communications campaign to engage stakeholders and the public, and devising and carrying out a medium-term rehabilitation and recovery program for the ecosystem.

After seeing a video of raw sewage spewing out of a pipe on Bulabog Beach, Duterte on Feb. 9 declared "I will close Boracay" and called the popular tourist spot a "cesspool."

On April 26, Boracay was officially shut down for tourism purposes when tourists were barred from boarding the ferry which is the main path to enter the island. Officers wielding assault rifles were seen at every entry point to make sure no one was taking the orders lightly.

The island resort was shut down for six months for the purpose of cleaning up the island, especially its drainage system.

Boracay's infrastructure was proving to be unable to accommodate the influx of constant visitors and the new hotels being built to host them. The island's sewage system in particular could not cope, which had left many of the island's streets and alleys in a constant state of repair as maintenance crews desperately tried to clear clogged pipes.

The island received some 2 million visitors last year, according to the Philippine government, mostly from China and South Korea. It has also been reported that tourism brought an estimated $1 billion to the local economy last year alone.