Lonely Planet Writer

Boracay island in the Philippines reopens with stricter rules for travellers

The popular tourist island of Boracay – which became a must-see destination in the Philippines thanks to its gorgeous white sand beach – has reopened after a six-month closure.

Boracay in Philippines. Image by Max shen/Getty Images

In April, the country’s president Rodrigo Duterte announced that local and international visitor arrivals would be halted, citing environmental concerns, particularly the issue of sewage entering the water. He said the island would close for six months while the clean-up efforts ensued.

The country’s Department of Tourism (DOT) announced earlier this year that Boracay will begin welcoming back visitors on 26 October. However, there are some noticeable changes on the island, which had gained a reputation as a party spot.

Boracay in the Philippines. Image by ©Andrey Danilovich/Getty Images

Boracay is only seven kilometres-long and 500 metres-wide, but its gorgeous White Beach raised its reputation among travellers, pushing it to the forefront of the country’s tourist draws. Following its closure, clean-up efforts began and the country made efforts to “introduce and boost travellers’ awareness of other tourism destinations in the country”.

Smoking and drinking will be banned in public and on the beaches, and will only be allowed in specific areas. A limit of 19,200 tourists will be allowed on the island at any one time. Their famous multi-day beach parties will be a thing of the past, while bonfires, masseuses and vendors are no longer allowed on the beachfront. Three casinos have been closed down and water sports are also banned for the time being while a marine assessment is carried out.

The DOT says it will push for sustainability and increased tourist infrastructure across the country as it hopes to increase its tourist numbers from 6.6 million in 2017 to 7.4 million in 2018. Travellers heading to the country soon can check out a list of the best beaches around the Philippines.

This article was originally published on 31 August and was updated 26 October.