MANILA • Beach boozing and smoking will be consigned to the past when Boracay, the Philippines' top holiday island, welcomes back a capped number of tourists after its six-month shutdown, the authorities said yesterday.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the island shuttered to visitors in April, after declaring that years of unchecked growth had turned the white-sand idyll into a "cesspool".
When hotel doors reopen on Oct 26, the island, known for its party atmosphere, will crack down on drinking and smoking on its beaches, while only 19,000 tourists will be allowed at any one time.
The rules are aimed at protecting the fragile ecosystem of the island, which saw up to 40,000 beach-goers unwinding on its sand and swimming in its turquoise waters at peak periods.
"We wanted the beachfront to be clean and to be occupied by tourists," Environment Undersecretary Sherwin Rigor said on ABS-CBN TV. "There are more people who want to engage in wholesome activities."
In the run-up to the reopening, bars, restaurants and hotels were being demolished to restore a 30m stretch of sand between the water and tourist areas.
This belt will be off-limits to drinking, smoking, wedding ceremonies, vendors and massage providers - activities which can be carried out inside hotels and restaurants, said Mr Rigor.
The new rules are also set to ban the huge Laboracay multi-day beach parties attended by tens of thousands of tourists during the weekend that includes May 1, which is also the peak of the tourist season.