When Philippines President Duterte Tarnishes the Image of Tourist Icon Boracay

Philippines, environment, Boracay, sustainability

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte is well known for its undiplomatic way to talk and tell things. The Island of Boracay, considered a flagship of Philippines Tourism just learned it as well…

A “Sewer Pool. You go into the water. It’s smelly. Smell of what? S***. Because it all comes out in Boracay”. This is in these terms that Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte described the experience of Boracay Island, one of Philippines top tourist spots and a favourite of travel magazines. His remark was done during a business forum in Davao a few days ago last Friday.

Philippines’ famous white-sand island destination Boracay is drowning in faeces and may need to be shut down to protect the health of millions of visitors, President Rodrigo Duterte warned. He told hotels, restaurants and other businesses on the tiny central island to clean up or he would ban tourism there.

“I will close Boracay. Boracay is a cesspool,” Duterte stated during the business forum, according to an official transcript released by the presidential palace Saturday.

Red-faced tourism department officials -including Department of Tourism State Secretary Wanda Teo- confirmed Duterte’s assessment on Saturday (Feb 10), saying it reflected worsening sewage conditions on an island known globally for its pristine white sands and crystal clear waters.

“It’s a shame that Boracay, which has repeatedly been recognised by prestigious travel magazines as the world’s most beautiful island, may yet end up a paradise lost if water contamination continues,” declared the Tourism Secretary in a statement.

Department spokesman Ricky Alegre said a number of establishments drained their sewage directly into the sea.

“There are certain areas there (where)… some establishments have illegally tapped their sewage line into the water line,” Alegre told AFP.

Of the 150 Boracay business establishments recently inspected by the government, only 25 were connected to the sewage line, he said.

Many establishments were also building too close to the beach and were even crowding into the roads of the 1,000-hectare island, Alegre added.

Boracay attracts more than two million tourists a year and brings in 56 billion pesos (S$1.49 billion) in annual revenues, the department and industry sources said.

Duterte warned the situation was a looming environmental “disaster” and a “tragedy” that could soon drive visitors away from the island, located about 190 kilometres south of Manila.

He said he had ordered Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu to clean up Boracay or else. “I’ll give you six months. Clean the goddamn thing,” he said he had told Cimatu.

(Source: AFP)