Posted : 2018-02-13 20:01
Updated : 2018-02-13 20:04

Philippine leader threatens to close 'cesspool' holiday island of Boracay

Tourists on Boracay / Korea Times photo by Choi Ha-young

By Jung Min-ho, Cho Se-Yong

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has threatened to close Boracay, a popular destination for Korean tourists, calling the island a "cesspool."

Duterte blames local executives for the condition of Boracay. According to media outlets, only 25 facilities out of 150 there are connected to a sewerage line. The rest of the sewage and trash goes into the ocean.

"You go into the water, it's smelly," he was quoted as saying. "Smell of what? S***. Because it all comes out in Boracay."

If the present state does not improve in the next six months, Duterte said he will shut down the island, removing all tourist access. It is expected to be a major blow to tourism businesses and a local economy that relies heavily on them. The government said that the island brought in 56 billion pesos ($1.08 billion) last year alone.

The country's tourism secretary Wanda Teo warned that, if the government continues to overlook pollution, the island may turn into a "paradise lost."

Boracay is one of the most popular destinations for Korean tourists. According to the Korea Tourism Organization, 1.47 million Koreans visited the Philippines last year. Many went to the island.