Boracay is set to open soon, but if this recent statement from the Department of Tourism (DOT) is any indication, it’s not going to be the party island everyone once knew.
Yesterday, DOT Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said that smoking and drinking will no longer be allowed in public areas when the island re-opens on Oct. 26. This includes the famous White Beach, a beach-front strip once lined with hotels, bars, and restaurants.
More often than not, people from these establishments overflow to the shore, many with a drink and cigarette in hand.
“Definitely no more smoking and drinking in White Beach. Why? Because this is a public beach,” Puyat said during an event hosted by The Philippine Daily Inquirer.
She said, however, that tourists can still drink and smoke as long as they do it in the privacy of their hotels.
“They can probably smoke and drink in their hotel, resort, or accommodation,” she said.
According to ABS-CBN News, Puyat said the new rule was discussed with Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu and Department of Interior and Local Government Officer-in-Charge Eduardo Año, and that it is meant for the general public’s safety.
“You can be barefoot and you won’t be afraid of getting wounded because of a broken bottle and you know that what you’re walking on is really sand and not ash from a cigarette,” she said in .
Boracay regularly welcomes almost 2 million tourists a year and is one of the most popular destinations in the Philippines. However, it has been plagued by environmental problems like overcrowding, water pollution, and an inefficient waste-management system for years.
In April, it was closed to local and foreign tourists for a rehabilitation, following an order from President Rodrigo Duterte who had called it a cesspool.
Last week, Puyat said in an interview with news channel ANC that Boracay “won’t really be a party place anymore” as they plan to promote sustainable tourism.
Boracay is known to be a party island and is frequented by tourists for its beachfront parties. The biggest ones usually happen on Labor Day weekend which is better known as LaBoracay on May 1.