It seems like a few other famous beaches in Southeast Asia are following the lead set by Boracay, which is temporarily shutting down soon to give way to its environmental rehabilitation.
In Thailand, which like the Philippines is also famous for its world-class beaches, one popular beach is already preparing a temporary closure. The very popular Maya Bay—the hidden paradise made famous by Leonardo DiCaprio’s movie ‘The Beach’ (released in 2000)—will be off limits to all tourists from June to September this year.
In line with government plans, Maya Bay will take a three-month closure annually during those months—considered off-peak season due to the regular onset of monsoon rains in the area. While it is off, authorities will work to deal with all kinds of environmental problems that are left behind by tourists.
About 1.9 million tourists dropped by the Thai beach destination from September 2016 to September 2017, translating to a total tourism revenue of 669 million baht ($21 million), up 19% from the previous year.
Thailand’s tourism authorities have started heavily promoting other beaches along Phi Phi Island in the Andaman Sea (where Maya Bay is also located) to counter the possible impact of the three-month closure of Maya Bay.
As if that measure is not enough, Had Nopparat Thara-Phi Phi Island National Park—the regulator of the beach—is also considering putting up restrictions to tourists when Maya Bay reopens in October. The agency said among those new policies will be prohibition of boats to enter the bay and imposing of a stringent limit on volume of incoming tourists on a daily basis.
The case of Bali
Meanwhile, in Indonesia, the resort island of Bali got into headlines in December when authorities declared a ‘garbage emergency’ within specific popular beaches (Kuta, Jimbaran, and Seminyak). Up to 5.6 million tourists visited Bali in 2017, up by 15.6% from 2016.
The heavy volume of tourists has been cited as the culprit for significant rise of illegally disposed waste incurred from hotels and restaurants in the area. Experts estimate that over 240 tons of solid waste is being produced in Bali each day.
Here in the Philippines, the island of Boracay is already preparing a temporary closure for about six months (or more/less) to give authorities and local businesses enough time to clean up the island and implement better measures of handling wastes.
Boracay attracted around 2 million tourists in 2017. If the closure of the island will last up to a year (which is not a remote possibility), about P56 billion pesos ($1.1 billion) could be lost by public and private sectors in the area.