Boracay Island and Maya Bay Will Be Closed to Public

Boracay Island and Maya Bay Will Be Closed to Public

Due to the damaging effects of over-tourism on the ecosystem, Boracay Island and Maya Bay will be temporarily “closed” to tourists while they rehabilitate.

Maya Bay UPDATE: Maya Bay will be temporarily closed for four months from 1 June to 30 September 2018, as part of a rejuvenation programme to reverse damage to the surrounding coral reef. Maya Bay is part of Thailand’s Krabi province and close to Phi Phi Islands, a popular beach holiday destination.

Boracay UPDATE: Last 26 April 2018, Boracay already started its six-month rehabilitation. It has been a total closure to tourism. Many airlines have made changes to their flight schedules, including Air Asia. The budget airline has suspended 13 Caticlan (MPH) and Kalibo (KLO) flights and will be mounting additional flights to popular leisure destinations – Palawan, Bohol, Cebu, and Davao – in the Philippines.

If you’re thinking of visiting Boracay Island soon, you’d better reschedule because this pristine island paradise in the Philippines could well be closed to all local and foreign visitors for up to six months starting the end of April this year! As much as I wish it were, this isn’t part of some elaborate, distasteful April Fools prank – this is happening for real!

The closure comes a month after the president of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, had visited the popular tourist destination and called it a “cesspool”, highlighting the severe problems of sewage and material waste due to the extended effects of unsustainable tourism.

Thus, in an attempt to preserve the natural beauty that helped Boracay Island rank as one of the world’s best island destinations in the first place, the Philippines Government had decided to temporarily ban tourists in order to facilitate major cleanup operations. In addition, beach resorts and other businesses operating within the area will be compelled to install efficient water treatment and disposal systems or face consequences for breaching environmental laws.

The final details regarding the closure of Boracay, including the duration of the tourist ban and further regulation policies, will be revealed in a cabinet meeting this coming Friday (6 Apr  2018).

Image credit: SHAWN CHAN

However, Boracay Island isn’t the ONLY Southeast Asian island paradise that will shut its doors in the coming weeks. Oh yes, my dear friends of the travel life, there’s more bad news to come.

The popular Maya Bay in Thailand, made famous by the 1999 Hollywood film The Beach starring Leonardo DiCaprio, will also see a temporary shutdown later this year in June. According to Thailand’s National Parks and Wildlife Department, this is to allow the fragile coral reef colonies and marine life in the area a chance to recuperate from the damaging effects of both rising ocean temperatures and over-tourism.

When Maya Bay reopens eventually, Thai Government officials will implement and enforce a daily quota of 2,000 visitors to the island in addition to other necessary measures to conserve the island’s ecosystem.

Image credit: Ree Dexter

The dual closures are expected to affect more than 36,000 jobs in the tourism industry but as Thon Thamrongnawasawat, an expert in marine biology in Thailand, puts it: “Tourism is important, but we need to preserve these spaces for our future generations, for future livelihoods.”

It’s inevitable that as the world becomes more travel-friendly thanks to advances in transportation, many places face the prospect of dealing with unsustainable tourist numbers. Despite being completely in love with life on the road, I definitely acknowledge the importance of conservation and I suppose, sometimes, drastic measures such as those above are simply necessary to ensure the continuity of certain locales. And I’m okay with that.  

But what do you think about the closing of Boracay Island and Maya Bay? What if other locations, such as the Great Barrier Reef, had to be shut off to tourists to conserve its natural habitat? Would you be onboard with that or do you think there should be another way?

For now though, it seems that we’ll just have to put our dream Boracay vacation on hold, or maybe look at other alternatives to feed our wanderlust.

About Author

Darren Yeoh
Darren Yeoh

Darren enjoys the finer things in life and loves exploring unfamiliar places on foot, guided with nothing but instinct and a good-old fashioned map. He enjoys cultural experiences and exciting adventures and is not a stranger to travelling alone. When he's not putting his travel experiences into words, he's probably sitting behind his laptop, planning his upcoming adventure.


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