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Puerto Princesa readies P205-million tourism recovery plan

/ 04:21 AM September 14, 2020

NOW CLOSED Tourists used to come in droves to explore the 8.2-kilometer underground river at the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park. The coronavirus pandemic forced the closure of the park. Some attractions, like trail hikes, will reopen by Sept. 18 but the river tour will stay closed until further notice. —FILE PHOTO

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan, Philippines — With an initial budget of P205 million, the city government of Puerto Princesa is attempting to rescue its tourism industry, seeking “gradual reopening” for economic recovery amid the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

A tourism reopening and recovery plan (TRRP) was crafted in coordination with the Strengthening Urban Resilience for Growth and Equity (SURGE) project of the US Agency for International Development (USAID), as required by the Department of Tourism (DOT) for reopening tourist destinations, including the establishment of a COVID-19 laboratory to test arriving tourists.

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Three phases

City tourism officer Aileen Cynthia Amurao said the COVID-19 response fund would be used to “implement measures to prevent community transmission through thorough health screening of incoming travelers, and detection and isolation of symptomatic and asymptomatic cases.” Under the city’s tourism strategy, tourism-related establishments will be allowed to cater to residents in the city and in Palawan province. Next, travelers can enter from other “low-risk regions and provinces.” During the final phase, the city will be opened to all other local and foreign tourists.

Community-based

The proposed TRRP was presented to the DOT and other key tourism groups on Sept. 1. It would enhance the operations of its community-based sustainable tourism sites by “putting in place a safety net for the displaced tourism workers,” Amurao said in a statement released by the

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USAID on Friday.In 2019, tourism in Puerto Princesa generated more than P5.45 billion in revenue, drawing at least 1.2 million tourists. The figures dropped by 80 percent in the first quarter of 2020 when the national government imposed travel restrictions in mid-March due to the pandemic.

The city’s primary attraction is the Puerto Princesa Underground River, an 8.2-­kilometer river system inside the 22,000-hectare Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park.

More than 330,000 people used to visit the park yearly, earning at least P110 million. Between January to mid-March, 61,458 came before it was shut down due to the pandemic.

Romar Miranda

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TAGS: coronavirus pandemic, coronavirus Philippines, Puerto Princesa tourism recovery plan, travel restrictions
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