President Rodrigo Duterte approved Wednesday the closure of world-famous Boracay Island beginning at the end of the month.
“Bora will close for six months effective 26 April,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque told reporters on the sidelines of a Cabinet meeting in Manila.
Duterte made the decision following an “exhaustive discussion” and the recommendations by local government and a number of agencies, including the Interior, Environment and Natural Resources and Tourism departments.
The move paves the way for the island’s rehabilitation, Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra told reporters.
Guevarra said a state of emergency would be declared, allowing for the release of disaster funds to assist an estimated 36,000 workers on the island.
There are about 12,000 residents who live on the island and non-residents will be barred entry while repairs are made,
Duterte has been vocal since February about his intent to close Boracay. He has described it as a “cesspool” and said environmental violations by businesses has led to deteriorating conditions, particularly to the island’s sewerage and zoning.
As early as 2015, the environmental department warned of closures to businesses not in compliance with government regulations.
Duterte had earlier gave Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu six months to address the environmental issues in the island.
Located in central Philippines, Boracay Island is a world-famous tourist destination and was named by various international travel and destination magazines as one of the world’s best in 2012, 2014 and 2016.
The Provincial Municipal tourism office reported a record-high 2 million tourists on Boracay in 2017 — 16 percent higher than the 1.7 million tourists the previous year. More than half, 1.06 million, were foreigners.
Many stakeholder have criticized the impending closure they say may result in lost revenue of at least 56 billion pesos, or $1.2 million.