After its six-month rehabilitation, Boracay is ready for the public once more, this time looking cleaner and “well-rested” after decades of reckless trashing and partying by local and foreign tourists alike. Boracay has changed, but the real question is, is there a change among its visitors? We’ve done some research to find out its current state:
Trash found around the premises a day after re-opening
DENR posted on its official Twitter account a photo of empty plastic bottles and debris found on the beach premises only after a day of re-opening. The post read: “We retrieved this trash in one crevice alone of the rock formation of Station 1 of Boracay. Is this responsible tourism?”
The DENR then urged the public to keep the island “clean” and “pristine,” saying, “Let’s all work together to keep Boracay clean and pristine! PLEASE RETWEET. #BetterBoracay,”
Tourists are still breaking the rules
Barely a week has passed since the beach was opened to the public and already “parties, including loud music, smoking and drinking in Boracay are back, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said, citing reports she received on Wednesday.” This came from a report by Philippine Star, where Puyat revealed, “Nakakalungkot lang talaga na may mangilan-ngilan na mga pasaway. It is hard… to believe that they do not know the guidelines because they were given an oath for a better Boracay upon entering the island.”
These incidents were against the strict enforcement of a local ordinance prohibiting drinking of alcohol and smoking in public places as well as partying within the no-build zone easement.
Tourists flock the island and trash starts to pile
Improper disposal of garbage and blatant disregard for the environment can be seen happening once again on the famed island, not only by tourists but also from stores and restaurants that are running on the area. From the reopening on Friday to Sunday noon, 6,434 visitors have entered Boracay, according to records at the Caticlan Jetty Port. Inquirer also reported that “stores and restaurants still sell food and drinks in single-use plastic plates, cups and bottles with straws.”
Can Boracay truly return to its pristine form?
Condé Nast Traveler in 2016 had dubbed Boracay “world’s best island,” but can it still retain that title given that we’re seeing its unfortunate future only a few days after its opening? The public has been briefed with new rules and regulations, do’s and don’ts, as well as updates on the island. What it needs is consistency of action: both from the local government and visitors. The real challenge comes after the cleanup: can it be maintained or is another closure needed to keep Boracay alive?
Feature photo: AP Photo/Joeal Calupitan