Boracay: the good, bad and ugly sides to Philippine island for tourists

Scavengers sift through a rubbish dump on Boracay. Picture: AFP


By Tim Pile/scmp.com

The good

Boracay residents must feel like they’ve won the lottery. In 2017, the Philippines’ alpha resort generated revenue in excess of US$1.08 billion, a figure predicted to spike even higher in 2018, assuming President Rodrigo Duterte allows the island to stay open (see The Bad).

Last year, the 7km by 500 metre island welcomed 2.1 million tourists, many of whom arrived at the regional airport, Kalibo, on flights from Asian cities, including eight mainland hubs. In fact, China recently surpassed South Korea as the leading source of visitors.

Not everyone arrives by air, though. Boracay forms part of the Turquoise Triangle (with Manila and Palawan) and at least 48 cruise ship arrivals are scheduled for this year.

Its name thought to derive from the indigenous Ati word borac, meaning “white cotton”, Boracay was voted among the Top 10 Island Destinations in 2016 by Chinese travel service provider CTrip, and ranked World’s Best Island in the Condé Nast 2017 Readers’ Choice Awards.

Once a rustic word-of-mouth hideaway, the secret is most definitely out. Asian holidaymakers rub shoulders with international backpackers, domestic tourists and expat bar owners, all drawn to what has been described as the “new Phuket”, thanks to a stunning 4km strip of talcum powder known as White Beach.

There are other places to unfurl a sarong, though. Try the silky sands at Diniwid or cycle to Puka Beach.

FULL STORY

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