‘Calm, warm waters, gently sloping sand. Very relaxing. Possibly the most beautiful beach in Asia.” That’s how Boracay was described in the TripAdvisor’s 2019 Travelers’ Choice Awards, which cited 24 others in its Asia’s Best Beaches category. Surprisingly, Boracay only bagged the ninth spot among the region’s top 25 beaches. The Radhanagar Beach of Havelock Island in India topped the list, while Yapak Beach, the second-largest beach in Boracay and named after the prevalent white puka seashells, was listed last at 25th.
The TripAdvisor’s 2019 Travelers’ Choice Awards ranks beaches, destinations, attractions, among others, based on millions of traveler reviews and opinions.
Boracay received over 6,000 reviews with 62 percent excellent rave reviews and 24 percent very good rating, with most of the comments acknowledging the successful rehabilitation of the island. For example, TripAdvisor reviewer mariasusnaf2018 said: “Boracay still has it! After the six months rehab the Boracay White Beach is cleaner and clear. It has maintained its popularity among tourists and locals. It’s really lovely during sunsets. The burst of colors is awesome. I saw garbage bins, which were absent before.”
“The best beach in the world. Experience the new, renovated and clean White Beach of Boracay. It is excellent for watersports and I can swim here the whole day. Be careful with the sun and always use your sunblock with high factor. Food are excellent everywhere you go,” said jguzon from Oslo, Norway.
President Duterte ordered the six-month closure of the 10-square-kilometer island paradise starting April last year because it was turning into a “cesspool.” Boracay’s intensive rehabilitation managed to rid the beach of pollution and fix its unregulated sewage system. It reopened its beaches to tourists on October 26, 2018. Since then, sustainable tourism has been the battle cry of the Department of Tourism in promoting the country’s destination and in rallying tourism stakeholders to do their part in balancing development and conservation.
Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat earlier described Boracay’s closure as a “blessing in disguise.” She said: “The challenging act of closing down Boracay, a flagship destination and the country’s top sun-and-beach destination, has evidently become a blessing in disguise for secondary tourism spots to have a share of the limelight and attention they truly deserve.” She added that Palawan’s Nacpan Beach and Las Cabanas Beach were voted as the 13th and 22nd best beaches in the TripAdvisor’s 2019 Travelers’ Choice Awards.
The tourism chief said: “We take it that this TripAdvisor citation of Boracay and El Nido is indicative of the positive reactions to the reforms and new policies being implemented in an effort to inculcate a culture of sustainable tourism. This bodes well with our campaign of highlighting the people’s genuine testaments and reactions to our destinations.”
The recent naming of Boracay and Palawan beaches among Asia’s best in the TripAdvisor 2019 Travelers’ Choice Award gives us reason to rejoice. However, it pays to remember that we are just talking about a small segment of a global travel and tourism industry that’s estimated at about $8 trillion in 2016. The big challenge for us is to work for the inclusion of our attractions, destinations, hotels, airlines and restaurants in the top 25 of their respective categories.