MANILA - Tourist arrivals in Boracay climbed in March compared to the same month last year, even as the government mulled shutting down the holiday island to address its pollution problem, authorities confirmed Sunday.
A total of 172,358 tourists visited the island last month, which is 7 percent higher than the 160,696 arrivals in March 2017, according to the Aklan Provincial Tourism Office’s Economic Enterprise Development Department.
The surge in tourist arrivals was brought by cruise ships that visited Boracay, said Niven Maquirang, administrator of the province’s Caticlan and Cagban jetty ports.
Twenty-seven cruise ships were set to visit the island this year, with 5 arriving in April, he said.
Cruise ships, which typically carry 2,000 to 4,000 tourists, do not contribute to pollution in the island as they only stay for 6 to 8 hours, added Maquirang.
One ship, however, has cancelled its scheduled visit without specifying a reason, he said.
Authorities moved to clean Boracay after President Rodrigo Duterte in February warned that he would shut down the island, saying pollution had turned it into a "cesspool."