>> Reeking sewage, piles of garbage, and a surge in tourism has put a hard strain on the Philippines' top tourist destination, Boracay island. It's all pushed the government to shut it down this Thursday for a six-month cleanup. Millions flock there every year looking for crystal clear waters and bars on the beach.
However, as Reuters' Peter Blaza reports, locals are now worried about losing their sole source of income during peak season.>> President Duterte's announcement to close down Boracay to tourists has left many workers questioning where they will go during the six-month ban. Many are clinging their hopes on the government's financial aid, but some hope for more concrete plans like more jobs in the island.
>> Authorities have set aside nearly $40 million for a calamity fund for informal workers, but some told Reuters last Friday they had yet to hear from local authorities about the aid. That money may be crucial to big businesses on the island too. Resort consultant Francis Antonio says the shutdown's biggest challenge will be keeping employees during the break.
>> You have daily operating expenses and you have to take care of your employees. We're not heartless, and we have to help them.>> On the other hand, the pollution is so bad that President Rodrigo Duterte has described Boracay as a sewer pool. And the country's environment ministry has given out demolition orders to resorts for the illegal discharge of sewage.
Visitors who came to Boracay in search of a tropical paradise say they've been shocked and disappointed at the state of the island's beaches.>> It's a serious problem because I think you're not ready to get this amount of people here.>> While many there see the sense in a temporary closure to save the island's future, they know there will be pain in the short term as the lights go out on Boracay's busy tourist trade.