Can I Go to Boracay? Philippines' Duterte Closes Popular Tourist Destination Covered in Human Waste and Garbage

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte ordered a popular tourist destination be closed because it was covered in garbage and human waste.

Boracay, a small island known for its luxury resorts and pristine beaches, will be closed for at least six months because it has been converted into a “cesspool,” Duterte said. Starting April 26, government officials announced that each tourist facility will be inspected to ensure that their sewage and waste disposal systems are up-to-date. Almost 1,000 illegal structures will also be demolished during the months of cleanup, and new water treatment facilities will be built.

The measures were announced after a video spread across the Internet showing black sewage floating in the clear blue waters near one of the island’s resorts. Inspectors dispatched to the island found at least 800 environmental violations.

More than 2 million tourists visit the island each year, bringing in around $1 billion in revenue—however, at least 700,000 reservations have been canceled due to the cleanup. Duterte announced that emergency funds would be allocated for residents who rely on tourism for their economic survival. Local residents can also find employment in the cleanup effort, officials said.

The Philippines is one of Asia's fastest-growing countries, but the economic boom is taking a toll on the country’s biodiversity.

“Effective management seriously degrades the country’s significant biodiversity resources; water and air pollution levels exceed generally accepted standards; greenhouse gas emissions are increasing from the transport and power sectors; and the country is ranked as one of the world’s most vulnerable to the impacts of environmental disasters,” the U.S. development agency USAID said. "For the Philippines to become a more stable, prosperous and well-governed nation, the country must become more environmentally resilient and better able to cope with the impact of natural disasters and recover quickly."

Since coming to office, Duterte has used his characteristically tough rhetoric to lash out at industries that harm the environment.