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Philippines to close Boracay Island for six months from April 26

Philippines to close Boracay Island for six months from April 26

The Philippines is closing its best-known holiday island Boracay to tourists for up to six months over concerns that the once idyllic white-sand resort has become a "cesspool" tainted by dumped sewage, authorities said on Thursday.

The decision to close the island has been speculated since February, when Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte complained about the state of the island and accused managers of turning it into a "cesspool".

However, the two airline companies will continue to serve local residents and ensure continuity of commerce in the Northern Panay island, and maintain links between Boracay and Aklan province.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the island will be a "total closure" for tourism beginning April 26.

The island attracted almost 2 million visitors a year ago.

Philippine Airlines said it would scale down services to the airports while adding flights to other destinations. A six-month closure could shave 0.1 per cent off the country's gross domestic product, according to a government estimate on Tuesday. "We're a bit depressed right now in the industry", Jose Clemente III, president of the Tourism Congress of the Philippines, told ABS-CBN.

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Starting April 26, PAL will increase flights on the following routes between Cebu and Busuanga (Coron), Cebu and Siargao as well as between Clark and Busuanga.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, which separately measured it at 6.0, said the quake was felt in the Mindanao cities of Davao, Mati and Bislig, but that it did not expect any damage. "In the long-term, a safe and revitalized Boracay will benefit all stakeholders in the travel and tourism sectors, and the Filipino people as a whole".

Discovery World said it has started to refund customer deposits, rebooking them to future dates or to its resort on the island of Palawan. The government will provide "alternative and temporary" livelihood support to the workers who will be affected by the shutdown.

Roque said priority would also be given to the construction of new sewage lines, since the existing ones now being operated by Boracay Island Water Company, Inc. were proven to be insufficient and had caused backflows. But its appeal has been overshadowed lately by inadequate sewage treatment and pollution.

The Boracay Foundation Inc., a business association on the island, had asked the government to shut down only those violating environmental laws.


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