There’s a difference between being a “tourist” and being a “traveller”. A traveller respects their surroundings and endeavors to partake in them without leaving a negative footprint. A tourist brings a six pack of beer, seven towels, and leaves at least half those things on the beach. Yet another idyllic beach in the world will now be temporarily shut down to combat the impact of rampant tourism – and this time, it’s in the Philippines.

a beach with palm trees and a group of tables and chairsBoracay

Boracay, Philippines is one of the most sought after destinations in Southeast Asia. If you could do a weight loss style “before and after” however, you’d see two entirely different destinations. One, the former, looks like a brochure for a priceless vacation. The other, the latter, looks like low tide in the worst parts of New York City. The island is a massive draw for tourists, bringing in 1bn to the Philippines, but to salvage and rejuvenate, the island will close to tourists. Apparently tourist related businesses have not respected the environment, and have been accused by the President of dumping waste water into surrounding waterways. Gross!


First it was Thailand temporarily shutting down Maya Beach, the famed beach from the movie “The Beach”. Next, it was Italy banning towels at a Sardinian beach. Now, it’s the Philippines saying – enough is enough. Boracay will close to tourists at the request of President Rodrigo Duterte, who recently called the island a “cesspool”. The closure will begin on the 26th of April, 2018 and last six months at a minimum. Local businesses hope Duterte will change his mind, but it seems highly unlikely at this point. A short term loss may pave the way for a long term future.


This is yet another fascinating example of ethical tourism. The idea of a perfect beach has never been a place littered with tourists (and actual litter). The ideal beach is a place with few people, brilliant turquoise blue water and impeccably clean sand. Governments and tourism boards must constantly battle the short term satisfaction of “record numbers” with the long term sustainability and higher end customers which a perfectly maintained beach and “vibe” bring in. Let’s hope the Philippines can manage to salvage this remarkable island for future generations.

What do you think about the trend of closing beaches to tourists?

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. Hard to see anyone other than Fillipinos as responsible. The tourists didn’t force the majority of hotels on the island to run raw sewage into the sea…..

    Same dynamic in Bali, locals turned it into a dump

  2. Tourists didn’t ruin anything. The local response did. Enact and ENFORCE laws that make the local businesses act accordingly and shutting something down shouldn’t be necessary.

  3. I disagree that “Tourist” in general ruin stuff. It’s like anything else in life. There are people that just don’t care or are rude. Like littering along the highway. For example Progresso Mexico could be a really nice place with a nice beach but the locals and Mexican visitors throw trash on the street, glass bottles on the beach,etc. So it’s crappy. It would never have been a top 10 beach but it certainly would have been nice. It is not the thousands of cruise ship passengers from the USA that visit that are ruining it.

    Many travel “experts” spend all kinds of time telling us that in order to enjoy visiting a place you have to act, dress and speak like a local (like you would actually fool anyone). Sure that is respectful but being a traveler and a tourist is possible and typical. Maybe being slob in general is more accurate.

    I think closing the beach is a smart move so they can fix sewage problems and let the locals that are abusing this place clean it up or reap less income.

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