Philippines shuts down world-famous Boracay island resort

Xinhua
Starting Thursday, no foreign or local tourists will be allowed to enter the world-class Boracay Island resort in the central Philippines.
Xinhua

Starting Thursday, no foreign or local tourists will be allowed to enter the world-class Boracay Island resort in the central Philippines.

"The Boracay closure will begin on April 26, 2018 as it undergoes environmental rehabilitation for the next six months. We urge the public to be guided accordingly as we restore the island to its former glory," said the Department of Tourism in an advisory issued on Wednesday.

The DOT warned that "identified tourists will be stopped at the jetty port" if they would attempt to enter the island, adding that only residents, workers and resort owners with proper identification cards and terminal passes will be allowed access to the island.

Moreover, the DOT said that only residents will be allowed to swim in designated beach.

Not even visitors of Boracay residents will be allowed entry into the island "except under emergency situations with the clearance security of the (government) security committee," the DOT said.

The DOT said "no floating structures will be allowed up to 3 km from the shoreline."

"Foreign residents will undergo checks and will have to be revalidated by the Bureau of Immigration."

About 2 million tourists pour into Boracay every year to enjoy the popular resort island's powdery white sand and calm blue waters.

Malay Mayor Ciceron Calawaing and Caticlan port administrator Never Maquirang vowed to implement President Rodrigo Duterte's order to close the island for six month to give way to the government's efforts to clean up and rehabilitate the island.

Some business owners, resort owners and sporting associations on the island have opposed the shut down.

Already, armed security personnel have been sent to provide "maximum" security to the island. Some 600 policemen will be sent to the island to maintain peace and order, the police said.

On Tuesday police held a practice run of security measures in case there will be disturbances that may break out during the clean up period. For instance, police conducted exercises simulating clashes with protesters, terrorist attacks and even hostage incident.

The military and the Coast Guard said they are ready to help the police maintain order.

Coast Guard spokesman Capt. Armand Balilo said the Coast Guard will deploy two ships, three rigid-hulled inflatable boats and about 100 personnel on Monday next week.

"We (Coast Guard) will extend whatever help we can give...We will help in the patrol and enforcement of regulations.....We will monitor the development there," Balilo said.

"If there will be people who will try to enter, we will block them if they will insist. We will help the PNP (Philippine National Police) since we have the water assets."

Military spokesman Col. Medel Aguilar said Army troops based in nearby Cebu in the central Philippines have been tapped to help ensure security on the island.

The shut-down will affect the lives of nearly 47,000 residents on the island.

Duterte ordered on April 4 the temporary closure of the world-class resort island Boracay in central Philippines for six months beginning April 26 to rehabilitate the island.

The sixth month closure of Boracay will cost the Philippine economy about 1.96 billion pesos (roughly US$34.5 million), according to Economic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia.

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