Can the Philippine Island of Boracay Beat Overtourism?2 min read
Mr. Salazar is also the chairman of the Boracay Foundation, a tourism business group, which objected to the 2018 closure and capacity limit. The Foundation argued that only owners who violated the setback and sewer rules should be penalized and that the 14,000 government-approved hotels could accommodate thousands more tourists than the 19,215 limit set by the task force.
In the end, Mr. Salazar said, the closure was good for the island, because local laws that were long flouted were being enforced, including the beach setback, sewer hookups and a ban on single-use plastics.
“There was a free-for-all to get as many on the island without regard to impact,” Mr. Salazar said, “and now there is control.”
Part of the island’s plan to alleviate overcrowding is to make other parts of Boracay besides White Beach more attractive to visitors. At the mile-long Bulabog Beach on the east coast, the sole resort, Aqua Boracay, was considering starting a yacht service to bring guests directly to the bay, said Krista Tudtud, a sales and marketing manager.
“What we are trying to do here is to disperse the crowd, because most of the people, when they say Boracay, the only thing that they remember is the White Beach,” Ms. Tudtud said as scores of arcing kite surfers crisscrossed the clear shallow bay. “But there’s also a hidden gem on this side that we want to introduce to guests.”
Just down the new brick promenade, surfers traded stories at Habagat Kitebording’s open-air bar. The German owner, Winnie Levai, opened the first kiting school on the island in 2002, and within a few years the sport took off with about 10 schools, he said.
In 2018, his business was among the dozens on Bulabog targeted to be partly or entirely torn down. “I had all the legal papers to build,” he said. “So it was a kind of shock.”
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