The Philippines government has announced that its popular holiday island Boracay will be closed to tourists for six months in order to clean it up after concerns that rapid development and pollution was threatening its idyllic shores.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the shutdown to start Apr 26. It would be a "total closure" to tourists.
The island, whose revenue makes up 20 percent of country's total tourism industry, will be off-limits to visitors during the clean-up.
Boracay became a popular tourist destination in 2010 and has since then landed on the covers and lists of travel magazines. Almost two million tourists visited the island in 2017.
The tourism boom on Boracay brought jobs and investment but strained the island's water and rubbish disposal systems and its sewer system.
Officials have warned the island's drainage system is being used to send the untreated sewage into its surrounding turquoise waters. The environment ministry says 195 businesses, along with more than 4,000 residential customers, are not connected to sewer lines.
Philippine Airlines has adjusted its operations in support of the government's decision. PAL will scale down its services to Caticlan and Kalibo airports for a six-month period beginning late April, and expand flights to a number of other Philippine tourist and provincial destinations during said period to help ensure the continued growth of domestic tourism.
PAL will thus operate nine (9) weekly flights between Manila and Kalibo (PR2969 and 2970) and seven (7) weekly flights (PR2041 / 2042) between Manila and Caticlan to maintain continued links to these gateways to Boracay and Aklan province.
All other Caticlan and Kalibo flights from Manila will be suspended from April 20 to October 27, while Caticlan and Kalibo flights from Cebu and Clark will be suspended from April 26 to October 27.
Starting April 20, PAL will deploy additional flights on routes between Manila and Cebu, Iloilo, Puerto Princesa and Bacolod,
2847 / 2848 MNL-CEB-MNL DAILY (20 APR)
2149 / 2150 MNL-ILO-MNL DAILY (20 APR)
2789 / 2790 MNL-PPS-MNL TH (20 APR)
2135 / 2136 MNL-BCD-MNL TH (20 APR)
Starting April 26, PAL will increase flights on the following routes between Cebu and Busuanga (Coron), Cebu and Siargao as well as between Clark and Busuanga.
2694 / 2695 CEB-USU-CEB DAILY (26 APR))
2698 / 2699 CRK-USU-CRK DAILY (26 APR)
2382 /2383 CEB-IAO-CEB DAILY (26 APR)
Starting April 28, PAL will increase flights on the following routes between Cebu and Clark.
2833 / 2834 CEB-CRK-CEB TU/TH/SA (28 APR)
Starting May 1, PAL will increase flights on the following routes between Manila and Dumaguete as well as Manila and Cagayan de Oro
2541 / 2542 MNL-DGT-MNL DAILY (01 MAY)
2531/2532 MNL-CGY-MNL TU/WE/FRI (01 MAY)
In line with the closure, Cebu Pacific has also cancelled several flights to and from Caticlan and Kalibo in Aklan. Cancellations will run until at least October.