Remko Tanis • 30 October 2018

Boracay, the tropical island paradise in the Philippines, has reopened to tourists a couple of days ago. It had undergone a massive six month cleanup, during which no visitors were allowed to the island.

In 2016 Condé Nast Traveller readers named Boracay ‘Best Island in the World’.

Boracay, the Philippines. (C) Remko Tanis

President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines called Boracay a ‘cesspool’ back in February 2018, due to years of partying, overcrowding and environmental neglect. He freaked out the local tourism industry by shutting the island down instantly.

“I could not allow this decay to continue.”

President Duterte of the Philippines on why he closed Boracay to tourists.

Now the first impressions of paradise revamped are in.

Boracay, the Philippines. (C) Remko Tanis

Most noticeable changes are:

  • a ban on drinking, smoking and vomiting on the beach

  • no more masseuses, sand castle builders, touts, deck chairs and umbrellas on the sand

  • all bars and other businesses are at least 30 meters removed from the water’s edge

  • no more jet skis, casinos and bonfires

  • no more of the drunken beach mayhem, including the annual LaBoracay fest - comparable to the monthly New Moon parties on Asia’s #1 party island Koh Phangan in Thailand

White Beach, Boracay, the Philippines. (C) Remko Tanis

Visitor numbers to Boracay will be limited to around 6,000 a day, a fraction of the 40,000 the island had pouncing around before . Each tourist will have to sign a pledge with a promise to obey the new rules.

The Philippine Star says tourists ‘will be delighted with a rehabilitated beachfront that looked like what people fell in love with 30 years ago.’

SIDEBAR: Millions of Filipinos live and work abroad, unable to find decent earning jobs at home. The money they wire back to their families is not only essential to the national economy, it is the lifeline for their parents, spouses and children. I visited those who stay behind in Cebu and Lapu-Lapu City. That story is here.