Despite overdevelopment issues, Boracay still voted ‘Best Island in the World’

While having a Starbucks and McDonald’s outlet is a telling sign that one of Asia’s top beach destinations is no longer the idyllic island it was many years ago, it looks like overdevelopment issues have done little to turn tourists away from the Philippines’ Boracay island.

According to this year’s Condé Nast Traveler Reader’s Choice Awards published Monday, Boracay is still the best island in the world.

More than 300,000 travelers voted the Visayan island as number one, the same spot it nabbed on the same list last year.

Boracay, with its blue waters and white sand beaches, is certainly a natural marvel, but many people go there for the nightlife and the bars and restaurants that line the beach strip.

“This itty-bitty island (just under four square miles) in the Western Philippines is as close to a tropical idyll as you’ll find in Southeast Asia, with gentle coastlines and transportative (sic) sunsets. Fold in a thriving nightlife scene, and you have one of the top tourist spots in the region,” the Condé Nast Traveler feature says.

But some experts are worried that Boracay’s popularity may be the cause for its decline.

In a statement last May, The Philippine Institute of Environmental Planners (PIEP) and Alliance for Safe, Sustainable & Resilient Environments (ASSURE) expressed concern over pollution in the island, a problem they said was caused by tourism itself.

“It is obvious that the island’s burgeoning tourism growth is escalating the island’s environmental degradation which inevitably will impact on Boracay’s attractiveness as a prime tourist destination,” they said.

In October, Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu proposed to turn over the management of Boracay to a “national body” instead of the local government.

But in an interview with the Inquirer, Aklan Governor Florencio Miraflores assured that the local government is capable of managing Boracay but is in need of support from national government agencies.

According to the Malay Municipal Tourism Office, more than 1.7 million tourists visited Boracay last year.

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