Government of Philippines to shut down Boracay, the country’s top tourist attraction, due to pollution

GCRA assessed coral health, algae, and water quality all around Boracay in 1997 and 2007, and made recommendations on tertiary sewage treatment to recycle waste nutrients on land and keep them off the reef. The first report was banned by the Minister of Tourism, and both were ignored.

Read GCRA 2007 paper Boracay Environmental Restoration, Water Quality, and Sustainable Energy: Current Situation and Future Prospects

Read GCRA 1997 paper  Water Quality and Coral Reef Health In Boracay, El Nido, Isla Verde, and Balicasag, Philippines

 

Watch BBC News Video – Boracay: Paradise islanders fear tourist shutdown

 

Article published on April 5th 2018 in the BBC News site
Original article @ bbc.com/news.

Philippines to temporarily close popular tourist island Boracay

5 April 2018

Image: REUTERS
Boracay is popular with foreign and local tourists
 

The Philippine island of Boracay will be closed to tourists for six months following concerns of damage to its once pristine shores.

A spokesperson for President Rodrigo Duterte said the closure would begin on 26 April.

Earlier this year Mr Duterte said Boracay was turning into a “cesspool” and threatened to shut it down.

The island, known for its white-sand beaches, attracted nearly 2 million visitors last year.

The decision has prompted concern for the thousands of people employed in Boracay’s busy tourist trade.

The island is home to around 500 tourism-related businesses, which drew in annual revenue of $1.07bn (£760m) last year. The government said affected companies will receive financial aid.

It’s not clear how the shutdown will be implemented, though the department of trade and industry had earlier proposed closing the island down in phases, saying a total shutdown would be detrimental to businesses and livelihoods.

Damage fears

The move follows growing concern over the island’s environmental health.

Officials had warned businesses had been releasing wastewater into the surrounding waters.

In February, Mr Duterte condemned the island’s hotels, restaurants and other tourist businesses, accusing them of dumping sewage directly into the sea.


Image: GETTY IMAGES
A mountain of trash sits on a hillside on Boracay

“I will charge you for serious neglect of duty [for] making Boracay a fishpond or a sewer pool,” Mr Duterte said at the time.

“Either [you] clean it up or I will close it permanently. There will be a time that no more foreigners will go there.”

 


Land-Sourced Pollution with an Emphasis on Domestic Sewage: Lessons from the Caribbean and Implications for Coastal Development on Indian Ocean and Pacific Coral Reefs

Source: DeGeorges, 1988
Source: DeGeorges, 1988

Sustainability 2010, 2, 2919-2949; doi:10.3390/su2092919

sustainability
ISSN 2071-1050
www.mdpi.com/journal/sustainability

Andre DeGeorges 1,2,*, Thomas J. Goreau 1 and Brian Reilly 2

1 Global Coral Reef Alliance, 37 Pleasant Street, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA; E-Mail: goreau@bestweb.net

2 Department of Nature Conservation, Tshwane University of Technology, Private Bag X680, 0001 Pretoria, South Africa; E-Mail: reillybk@tut.ac.za

* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed: E-Mail: andredeg@verizon.net; Tel.: +1-757-854-1303; Fax: +1-703-790-1578. Received: 6 August 2010; in revised form: 5 September 2010 / Accepted: 9 September 2010 / Published: 14 September 2010

Abstract: This paper discusses land-sourced pollution with an emphasis on domestic sewage in the Caribbean in relation to similar issues in the Indian Ocean and Pacific. Starting on a large-scale in the 1980s, tropical Atlantic coastlines of Florida and Caribbean islands were over-developed to the point that traditional sewage treatment and disposal were inadequate to protect fragile coral reefs from eutrophication by land-sourced nutrient pollution. This pollution caused both ecological and public health problems. Coral reefs were smothered by macro-algae and died, becoming rapidly transformed into weedy algal lawns, which resulted in beach erosion, and loss of habitat that added to fisheries collapse previously caused by over-fishing. Barbados was one of the first countries to recognize this problem and to begin implementation of effective solutions. Eastern Africa, the Indian Ocean Islands, Pacific Islands, and South East Asia, are now starting to develop their coastlines for ecotourism, like the Caribbean was in the 1970s. Tourism is an important and increasing component of the economies of most tropical coastal areas. There are important lessons to be learned from this Caribbean experience for coastal zone planners, developers, engineers, coastal communities and decision makers in other parts of the world to assure that history does not repeat itself. Coral reef die-off from land-sourced pollution has been eclipsed as an issue since the ocean warming events of 1998, linked to global warming. Addressing ocean warming will take considerable international cooperation, but much of the land-sourced pollution issue, especially sewage, can be dealt with on a watershed by watershed basis by Indian Ocean and Pacific countries. Failure to solve this critical issue can adversely impact both coral reef and public health with dire economic consequences, and will prevent coral reef recovery from extreme high temperature events. Sewage treatment, disposal options, and nutrient standards are recommended that can serve as a reference point but must be fine-tuned to local ecology.

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