Within hours of Boracay’s ‘soft opening’ to local tourists, netizens have posted evidence of trash being dropped along the newly “rehabilitated” shoreline.
As a result of the images going viral today (Monday, October 15), the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Roy Cimatu has said that more bins will in installed along the island’s beachfront.
He said: “I’ve directed the environmental patrol assigned to the area to put trash can in that area. Trash bins recently donated will be issued to establishments to be placed in the white beach under the coconut trees.”
Today’s limited opening is intended to be a 11-day dry run before the official reopening date of October 26, six months after the island was closed to visitors.
The clean-up programme was launched on April 26 after President Duterte condemned the renowned white-sand resort as a “cesspool”.
Visiting Boracay today, Secretary Cimatu said that this description no longer applied, following the transformation of the island.
He said: “Boracay is now a sight to behold and the entire island will even be grander in the near future.
“However, this is no time for us to relax and lower our guards. While much has been gained already, there are still a lot of things to be done and we still ask for your extended patience, support and understanding.”
He added that the dry run would be an opportunity to assess the success of the clean-up.
“We will monitor if the rehabilitation works with the arrival of tourists,” he said, adding that a great improvement in water quality had already been confirmed.
Also speaking today, Tourism Secretary Benadette Romulo Puyat urged the public to “manage expectations” and understand that the rehabilitation process was being done in “phases”.
She said that the island’s “full rehabilitation” would not be complete until December 2019.
“October 26 is only a soft opening, only the first phase,” she said. “Phase Two will be in April and Phase Three will be in December, 2019. We have to be fair to everybody, these are phases. It’s only the first phase.”
As we recently reported, 68 hotels and guesthouses with more than 3,000 rooms have been given the go-ahead to accept guests from October 26.
However, visitors have been warned not to expect a “party island”, but rather a “haven of tranquility”. This change in the island’s image comes with a slate of new rules, including a drinking ban along the waterfront, and a temporary suspension of water sports.
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