Philippines closes ‘cesspool’ tourist island of Boracay

Algae accumulate on the shores of Boracay island during low tide in this photo taken on March 22, 2018. Vladimir Bunoan, ABS-CBN News

By Euan McKirdy/CNN – The Philippines has announced a six-month closure of the popular tourist destination of Boracay over concerns the island’s famous beaches and clear blue waters have been transformed into a “cesspool” due to sustained environmental damage.

The closure, which will begin April 26, was announced following a cabinet meeting Wednesday, and would be a “total closure” to tourists, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said. No other information was made available, CNN Philippines reported.

The decision ends weeks of speculation on the fate of the popular tourist destination, after Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte complained about the state of the island in February.

Boracay, which is around 170 miles south of the capital Manila, is home to as many as 17,000 people, many of whom are directly engaged in the tourism industry, according to CNN Philippines.

“Calamity funds” would be activated to provide financial relief to those affected by the shutdown, Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra said, but declined to give a figure.

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