The Philippines' straight-talking President Rodrigo Duterte has described the country's top beach destination as "very dirty," and even likened it to a "cesspool."
Boracay Island, 310 kilometres south of Manila, is very popular among foreign and local tourists for its white sandy beach. It was voted by Conde Nast Traveller as the best island in the world last year an has been developed rapidly in the past decade.
Duterte said the beach was "very dirty," and has directed his environment minister to clean it up or he would close it down, according to presidential spokesman Harry Roque on Thursday.
In a speech last week, Duterte described the beach as a "cesspool," warning that Boracay could turn into an environmental tragedy, which would drive away millions of foreign and local tourists that visit every year. Roque said on Thursday that Duterte had given Environment Secretary Frank Cimatu six months to submit a "final recommendation on the possible solution to avoid the further deterioration of Boracay Island." "He was putting the blame on local government officials because it is the local government officials that implement relevant laws and regulations on the protection of the environment," Roque said. "It is a wake-up call to all local government officials to do your job to protect the environment in all our tourist destinations," he added.
"Either they clean it up or I will close it permanently," Duterte said in another speech on the topic earlier this week. "Boracay is very beautiful from afar. If you swim in Boracay, you stink with shit. The tourists who would go there could catch dysentery," he said on Monday.