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Philippines Shuts Island Of Boracay To Stem Damage

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Philippines Shuts Island Of Boracay To Stem Damage

The Philippine island of Boracay will be closed to tourists for six months following concerns of damage to its once pristine shores.

A spokesperson for President Rodrigo Duterte said the closure would begin on 26 April.

Earlier this year Duterte said Boracay was turning into a "cesspool" and threatened to shut it down, reports the BBC.

The island, known for its white-sand beaches, attracted nearly 2 million visitors last year.

The decision has prompted concern for the thousands of people employed in Boracay's busy tourist trade.

The island is home to around 500 tourism-related businesses, which drew in annual revenue of $1.07 billion last year. The government said affected companies will receive financial aid.

The archipelago nation of the Philippines boasts well over 7,000 islands, and among them Boracay had come to be almost a byword for white-sand beach paradise, according to CNN.

But with an influx of tourists that began in the 1980s the island has struggled to maintain its idyllic allure. Last year almost 1.7 million tourists, including a significant number of cruise line passengers, visited the island during a 10-month period, according to the governmental Philippines Information Agency.

Among the problems caused by the island's long-running tourism boom is unregulated development and pipes carrying raw effluence directly into the sea.

In February, President Rodrigo Duterte condemned the island's hotels, restaurants and other tourist businesses, accusing them of dumping sewage directly into the sea.

"I will charge you for serious neglect of duty [for] making Boracay a fishpond or a sewer pool," Duterte said at the time.

Image credit: Reuters