Tourist Tuesday: Lessons from Borocay Island 8/6/19

I wrote the article below, and the one that will follow later this morning two weeks ago, before the Mill Fire and before yesterday’s meetings with CABS AND Costas Christ. I still think they are valid, even though as Costas said last night, Borocay Island was an extreme solution.

Today, I would again like to offer two separate articles, this first one: Lessons from Borocay Island, The Philippines and then in a couple hours, continue on with my invisible burden series. While it would be difficult for Big Sur to implement some of these practices — we are not an island, most of the time — there is still much we can learn about the extreme measures that have been used and look at whether we can avoid any such extreme measures, in order to save to save Big Sur. (This post was originally scheduled for last week, but I changed the schedule to accommodate the Mill Fire reporting.)

The President of the Philippines closed Borocay Island, for 6 months — no planes were allowed to land, and no tourists were allowed in. The reason (to use the President’s words) was the island had become a cesspool that needed immediate action from political authorities.

While Borocay Island was closed, it was cleaned up and a new strategy put into place. The sudden decision to shutter the island for tourism in February 2018 was very harsh for the locals who depend heavily on tourism. The main idea behind the decision was to use the hiatus to clean up the environment, improve hotels’ sewage treatment systems, and to develop a tourism strategy that guarantees a sustainable future for the island. Hence, Boracay re-opened on October 26, 2018 with a new strategy that intends to restrict tourism to make it more sustainable

These rules are as follows:

  • Quota on tourist visits based on the island’s carrying capacity (only 6,405 tourists per day can land on the island).
  • New regulations regarding tourists’ attitudes and behavior (e.g., smoking and drinking alcohol are forbidden on White beach, the most visited beach on the island) – (click here to see all the regulations).
  • New regulations regarding locals’ attitudes and behavior (e.g. raising pigs or chickens for a living is forbidden).
  • Only the hotels compliant with the requirements of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Department of the Interior and Local Government, and accredited by the Department of Tourism, can open again. Tourists can only come to the island if they reserve a room at one of these hotels.
  • All hotels must be connected to a proper sewage treatment system.
  • Road widening project to resolve congestion issues.
  • Trash and unauthorized buildings will be removed from the wetlands.
  • Buildings within 30 meters of the shoreline will be destroyed.
  • Gambling is forbidden on the island.

These regulations, assuming compliance is widespread, should enable tourism on Boracay Island to become more sustainable. But what has really happened since the reopening? Costas Christ touched on one of the ramifications of this extreme measure last night.

For the answer to that question, go here: to read the rest of the article.

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