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Philippines Boracay Island To Undergo Total Shutdown For Cleanup

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| April 5 , 2018 , 15:40 IST

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday approved the closure of the tourist destination of Boracay for up to six months after saying the waters off its famed white-sand beaches had become a "cesspool" due to overcrowding and development.

Tourism Under Secretary Frederick Alegre said that Duterte approved the total shutdown of Boracay as a tourist destination starting April 26 in a cabinet meeting Wednesday night after extensive discussions of its impact, including ways to help about 17,000 workers who may be displaced.

Alegre further said, "This is not about profit, it's about the political will to deal with years of neglect of the environment. We need to act swiftly to save the island and avert its further deterioration."

"The island can only sustain 30,000 people but teems with 70,000 at any time, including 50,000 residents and daily arrivals of about 20,000 tourists," added Alegre.

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Duterte said Boracay's water has turned into a "cesspool" with human waste being discharged into the sea.

Last month, environment undersecretary Jonas Leones reportedly said, that shutting down the tourist trade may include suspending ferry services, making the beaches off limits, and stationing police there "if necessary".

Leones said, "An iron fist is needed to bring it back to its previous condition. It will be a temporary thing."

Reports stated that more than two million tourists visited Boracay last year to enjoy its powdery beaches, spectacular sunsets and festive nightlife, generating about 56 billion pesos ($1.3 billion) in revenue. But the influx of tourists, neglected infrastructure and growth of resort establishments and poor settlements have threatened to turn Boracay into a "dead island" in less than a decade.

Boracay is the most famous holiday island in the Philippines, known for its resorts and beaches. Along the west coast, White Beach, palm trees, bars and restaurants attract tourists. On the east coast of the island, strong winds make Bulabog Beach a hub for water sports.