By Trudy Allen
In 2018 a ban on fireworks on Boracay Island, was implemented by the Boracay Inter Agency Taskforce.
Initially it had been decided that fireworks were to be banned before 9 p.m. so as not to cause unnecessary stress to the island’s endangered Golden Crowned Flying Foxes (fruit bats) during their evening migratory path.
The Boracay Inter Agency Taskforce went on to upgrade this to a complete ban and confirmed that this ban would have no exceptions. New Year’s Eve has always been one of the biggest party nights on Boracay, attracting tourists from around the world wanting to celebrate the arrival of a new year on the island.
Whilst the Department for Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) voted in favor of New Year’s fireworks, after residents and islanders requested reconsideration, the Department of Tourism (DOT) and Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) voted against it again.
Boracay's 2019 New Year celebrations were an anti-climax compared to previous years, with tourists expressing their disappointment on Hotel Review sites. Thousands of tourists and islanders still lined the beach to watch the only fireworks to be seen, launched from Caticlan and Nabas shorelines. They were a long way away and couldn’t be compared with the spectacular White Beach firework displays of proceeding years, which had even been featured on the BBC’s annual New Year from Around the World feature.
It wasn’t a complete surprise to residents and businesses that fireworks would continue to be banned, especially with the island being groomed as the country’s flagship for sustainable tourism. It was, however, incredulous that, within the same week the DOT triumphantly announced that 28 cruise ships would be visiting the island in 2019. Cruise ships are one of the biggest polluting industries there is, with no requirements to stop the use of the heaviest, dirtiest fuel until 2030.
Eventually the number of cruise ships visiting Boracay was significantly reduced, again after residents, netizens on social media and some news agencies jumped on the contradictory decisions being made about the island.