The most popular holiday island of the Philippines has closed doors to tourists. The noise of drills and hammers are heard everywhere as a six-month clean-up begins.
Boracay is a small island 310 kilometres south of Manila, the capital city of the Philippines. The Philippines are an archipelago in Southeast Asia with 7,641 islands.
Boracay is known as one of the best beach destinations in the world and is called by many a tropical paradise with white-sand beaches lined with coconut trees. A forested mountain sits on the northern side, inhabited by flying foxes and fruit bats native to the island. In 2017, Boracay was voted the best beach destination in the world by Conde Nast Traveler magazine.
However, for the next six months, Boracay island will remain closed off to tourists. The Philippine government wants to address environmental damage which is caused by too many people visiting the island. Only about 40,000 inhabitants live on the small island but over two million tourists from all over the world visit Boracay every year.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, declared a state of calamity on Boracay. Duterte ordered local officials on the island to ensure that no tourist will be allowed entry until the closure has been lifted.
"The continuous rise of tourist arrivals, the insufficient sewer and waste management system, and environmental violations of establishments aggravate the the environmental degradation and destroy the ecological balance of the island."
Hotels, restaurants and shops closed their businesses and started to tidy up and demolish construction that destroyed the island's main beach. The widening of the island's main street was also started to relieve traffic congestion on the island.
The closure will affect more than 17,000 workers in hotels, restaurants and other tourism-related establishments, as well as an estimated 11,000 people earning a living by selling various items and services to visitors.
image: Girlie Linao/dpa