The Philippines is a country abundant in natural resources, boasting of famous tourist spots known the world over.
But as tourism grew, so did the demands and stress on the tourist spots, many of which couldn't handle the weight of the pressure, leading it into ruin instead of prosperity. One such place is the famous Boracay Island.
Boracay’s popularity attracted not only tourists but bad business practices, as well. The island’s natural beauty suffered, forcing the government and President Rodrigo Duterte to intervene. On April 26 of 2018, the island of Boracay was closed upon orders of the President as part of a six-month plan to jumpstart the environmental rehabilitation of the island.
According to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), a further and more comprehensive rehabilitation plan for Boracay is comprised of four parts; enforcing laws and regulation, controlling and preventing pollution, rehabilitating and recovering lost and damaged ecosystem, and sustaining island activities without going against the previous three parts.
The first step after closing the island was to issue ‘show cause’ orders to 900 establishments present in the island done by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
Major problems that were seen based on a survey conducted were the damaged tourist spots like Puka beach and its caves, as well as the mistreatment of forests and wetlands. Another problem was the massive amount of garbage from both tourists and locals, plus the abysmal state of the island’s drainage system and sewer lines.
To achieve the goal of rehabilitating the island for six months, the DENR worked with other government agencies like Department of Tourism (DOT), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Department of Health (DOH), Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), and Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). All were responsible not just for the rehabilitation of the island's environment, but of the concerns of the workers and the residents, as well.
They are also looking towards garnering support from the private sector, with over 200 projects to be launched over the course of several years.
As Boracay reopened on Oct. 26, 2018, the Philippine government has limited the number of tourists who can stay at Boracay to only 19,000 daily, while 6,405 people can enter the island each day, assuming that visitors will remain there for three days and two nights.
DENR Usec. Sherwin Rigor explained that the island paradise only has a 55,000 capacity, which would require the workers on Boracay to not surpass the 15,000 people per day.
The plan to sustain the restoration of Boracay needs a serious amount of money (P25.27 billion). Sixty four percent of the funds coming from the private sector will be put into infrastructure.
There’s still a long way to go before Boracay is fully restored to its former glory and many more actions must be taken to make sure it stays that way. But with enough effort and cooperation from all parties involved, there is a chance to achieve this.