Philippines to temporary shut popular tourist island

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The Philippines is closing its best-known holiday island Boracay to tourists for up to six months over concerns that the once idyllic white-sand resort has become a "cesspool" tainted by dumped sewage, authorities said on Thursday.

Duterte late Wednesday ordered the closure of Boracay for six months from April 26 in a bid to rescue from ruin a once idyllic island that drew 2 million tourists and generated over a billion dollars in revenue past year.

"There will be a declaration of a state of calamity, but the President was insistent that the funds that will be spent will go only to the workers who will be displaced".

Roque said the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) would also be providing some assistance in terms of livelihood and in finding jobs.

Roque said priority would also be given to the construction of new sewage lines, since the existing ones now being operated by Boracay Island Water Company, Inc. were proven to be insufficient and had caused backflows.

"We have to fast track everything. And the closure is necessary to ensure that Boracay will be there for the next generation", Roque said.

"We want to bring it back to its paradise feel that we saw in the '80s".

"There will be no income and we have bills to pay so I don't know how I will survive". "And it's just something that we have to do; it's a temporary setback but we will recover the glory days of Boracay", Alegre said.

He said that in six months' time, half of the 948 illegal structures in the forest lands of Boracay would be dismantled.

"I am really in a quandary on how to handle six months (of closure)", budget hostel manager Manuel Raagas told AFP.

But within weeks of President Duterte lashing out at the local businesses, the Philippines gave the green light for Macau casino giant Galaxy Entertainment to begin construction next year of the casino and resort complex.

Inspectors found over 800 environmental violations.

"We will finish now our evidence gathering".

Both Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific offered customers full refunds or flights elsewhere, and said they would still operate a limited number of flights to Caticlan and Kalibo airports to serve residents, which number about 50,000.

"Whether foreign or local, they will not be allowed to enter the island".

PAL has adjusted its operations in support of the government's decision to temporarily close or limit access to Boracay for urgent major environmental rehabilitation of the island.

It will also increase flights between Cebu and Clark on April 28, and between Manila and Dumaguete as well as Manila and Cagayan de Oro on May 1, respectively.

The island will be closed starting April 26.

PAL said it will affect 42 flights per week to Kalibo and 52 flights per week to Caticlan which equivalent to 5,000 to 7,000 passengers seats per week.

"Boracay is a national treasure", PAL President Jaime J. Bautista said in a statement.