The Philippines is closing its best-known holiday island Boracay to tourists for up to six months over concerns that the once idyllic white-sand resort has become a "cesspool" tainted by dumped sewage, authorities said on Thursday.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the shutdown to start on April 26 for a maximum period of half a year, his spokesman Harry Roque said.
"Boracay is known as a paradise in our nation and this temporary closure is (meant) to ensure that the next generations will also experience that," Roque told reporters.
The decision jeopardises the livelihood of thousands employed in the island's bustling tourist trade that each year serves two million guests and pumps roughly $1 billion in revenue into the Philippine economy.
Experts said the measure also appeared to contradict the government's own pro-development policy for the island, including the recent approval of a planned $500-million casino and resort on Boracay.
The threat of closure first emerged in February when Duterte blasted the tiny island's hundreds of tourism-related hotels, restaurants and other businesses, accusing them of dumping sewage directly into the sea and turning it into a "cesspool".
Authorities said Thursday some businesses were using the island's drainage system to send untreated sewage into its surrounding turquoise waters.
The environment ministry says 195 businesses, along with more than 4,000 residential customers, are not connected to sewer lines.