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.
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.