After being closed off to visitors in April, the popular resort destination of Boracay in the central Philippines is expected to be reopened – with conditions – by the end of October.
Boracay – which was voted as the world’s best island by Conde Nast Traveller for 2017 – was closed by the Philippine government citing long-standing environmental concerns. It will welcome back tourists this fall, though officials from the Philippine Department of Tourism (DOT) have stated it won’t be the same as before.
The DOT will be imposing new restrictions aimed at curbing the environmental impact from visitors. While it is still in the works, government officials have revealed that there will be a set limit of the number of people to be allowed on the island at any given time. This would end the large gatherings such as the “Laboracay” parties which attract thousands of visitors each year during the start of the summer season.
Other policies will including a ban on drinking and smoking on the beach, designating specific areas on the island to do so.
In addition, the local government of Malay, Aklan passed an ordinance prohibiting the use of single-use or disposable plastic items by hotels, resorts, restaurants and establishments in the accommodation business. The ban would also cover disposable plastic products like toothbrushes, toothpaste tubes, shaving razors, shower caps, sachets of shampoo or conditioner, liquid body soaps, combs, bottled water, straws, spoons, forks, knives, and sachets of coffee, sugar and creamer.
Even with the new restrictions, government officials are still stressing the need to continue to clean up the island even as tourists are welcomed back. In a report from the The Philippine Daily Inquirer, Philippine Department of Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said: “October is only a soft opening… how can you rehabilitate an island under a state of calamity in only six months?” She added: “We are managing expectations. It will be open but don’t expect all the roads to be completed.”
While around five thousand hotel rooms will be ready by the end of October, Romulo-Puyat stressed that Boracay isn't expected to fully be rehabilitated until the end of 2019.
Among the first airlines to announce plans for the reopening of Boracay is Philippine low cost carrier Cebu Pacific, which would operate up to seven daily flights between Manila and Caticlan and twice daily between Cebu and Caticlan. The airline will also be ramping its efforts out of Kalibo with daily flights to/from Seoul-Incheon and Manila.