Tourists enjoy Boracay prior to shutdown

Local and foreign tourists enjoyed their vacations in Boracay a day before the world-famous island’s closure started on Thursday, April 26.

The island is set to be closed to tourists for six months upon the order of President Rodrigo Duterte to rehabilitate the island. However, tourists who have bookings beyond April 26 will still be allowed to stay in the area.

In a briefing last week, Tourism Assistant Secretary Frederick Alegre explained that tourists who arrived prior to April 26 “can stay up to the prescribed period of their booking but not beyond that.”

He clarified, however, that there will be “no extension beyond their original booking.” 

“If that means that they have to stay from the 26th to the 28th, the responsibility will be coming from the hotel operator to tell us that they have indeed people that have booked all the way to the 28th so that they can be allowed to finish their booking,” he said. 

On the other hand, individuals who wish to visit Boracay for business purposes, as well as visitors of the local residents, need to secure a permit from the authorities first.

While the island’s closure is set for six months, Boracay will have a soft opening in August, according to Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.

Earlier this week, the Philippine National Police (PNP) announced that it will deploy 400 of its officers to monitor the island amid its closure.

PNP Director General Oscar Albayalde on Monday, April 23, said that Chief Superintendent Cesar Binag, regional director for the Western Visayas, will be “in full control and supervision” and will have the “responsibility on how to deal with the misdeeds” in Boracay.

“We will monitor that (Boracay situation) 24 hours a day. We will be implementing it on the 26th,” Albayalde said.

While the PNP is expecting less resistance, Albayalde assured that the police force will implement maximum tolerance against possible protesters.

The move to shut down the world-famous island comes amid efforts to fix the area’s environmental issues. Duterte, in a previous speech, even likened Boracay to a “cesspool” due to the island’s dysfunctional sewerage system.

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