PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan — The City Tourism Department (CTD) and the tourism sector here are stepping up the development, promotion, and marketing of 18 community-based sustainable tourism (CBST) sites to prevent Puerto Princesa from becoming merely the “jumping-off point” of tourists.
Arnie Lim Tan, president of the Accredited Tour Operators of Puerto Princesa (ATOPP), on Thursday said the need to boost the marketing campaigns for the CBST destinations was due to observations that foreign and domestic tourists are no longer staying long in the city for their vacation but they go to El Nido, and recently to San Vicente, northern Palawan.
“Actually, ‘yan nga ang napupuna ng karamihan, especially our CTD na nagiging parang jump-off point na lang itong Puerto Princesa. Una, kulang din kasi sa information dissemination na bukod dito sa El Nido ay meron din tayong maraming CBST sites (Actually, that is the observation of many, especially the CTD, that Puerto Princesa has become only the jump-off point. First, there is lack of information dissemination that aside from El Nido, we also have a lot of CBST sites),” Tan told the Philippine News Agency (PNA).
He said that in a meeting Wednesday with the CTD, an agreement was reached to make the CBST sites as “alternative destinations” for tourists who cannot enter the Puerto Princesa Underground River (PPUR) due to its daily 1,200 carrying capacity limit.
Tan said there is a need for ATOPP to work with the city government on the CBST sites since their development came late.
“These CBST sites were developed later and some have no tourism infrastructure projects. Roads leading to the sites are not pleasing to the tourists,” he added.
He cited the Sta. Lucia Hot Spring in Barangay Sta. Lucia, where the road that leads to the site is muddy and rough and the place has no reliable comfort room.
Among the CBST sites are Batak Visitor Center Cultural Village, Iwahig Firefly Watching, Maoyon River Cruise and Bamboo Rafting, Sabang Mangrove Paddle Boat Tour, San Carlos Floating Restaurant, and Ugong Rock and Zipline.
He said that it is also important for the city government to carry out several projects lined up in its tourism master plan like the tourism convention center in the Quito area and the cruise ship port.
“Ang mga nandoon ay iyong tourism convention center na gagawin sa may Quito, but ang pinuproblema iyung mga informal settlers at relocation site para sa kanila (What is there is the tourism convention center in Quito, but the problem is the informal settlers and the relocation site for them),” Tan said.
He said this year the city government was unable to allocate funds for the tourism convention center, whose plan had already been completed.
Tan is unaware as to why the city government failed to come up with an appropriation for the construction of what could be another landmark structure in Puerto Princesa.
As an operator, there is a need to likewise assess the prices of tour packages to make Puerto Princesa more appealing as a destination for domestic tourists, he said.
“Many tourists would rather go to Hong Kong because travel package is cheap. Here, for example, to go to Isla Felomina CBST from PPUR, the price is PHP3,000 which is very expensive,” he said. PNA-northboundasia.com Photo by Celeste Anna Formoso