Cagayan eyes reopening of Palaui Island
TUGUEGARAO CITY, Cagayan, Philippines — The tourist-drawing Palaui Island may reopen to visitors soon, after officials set up rules to protect the environment and to spare it from the spread of the coronavirus.
Guidelines are being drafted by the Protected Area Management Board (PAMB), including a proposal to reduce the number of tourists headed to the island at a given time, before the governing body of the Palaui Island Protected Landscape and Seascape gives the go signal to open, said Gwendolyn Bambalan, Cagayan Valley director of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
Boats that can carry up to eight passengers to the island in Santa Ana town, Cagayan province, will be required to carry only half, said Bambalan, who also chairs PAMB in the region.
The San Vicente Motor Banca Association and the Palaui San Vicente Motor Banca Association have been accredited to ferry people to Palaui.
“We want to make all the necessary preparations [before allowing tourists back to Palaui]. We want the tourism industry to recover and to help local residents bounce back,” she said.
International spotlightPalaui has not received visitors for a year now, since Luzon was locked down in March last year after the government declared a public health emergency in the country due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The 8,048-hectare island includes a 102-ha mangrove forest, with a 1,008-ha coral reef and a 472-ha bed of seagrass.
It drew the international spotlight for hosting two seasons of reality television show “Survivor USA.” Palaui was also listed in the Top 10 most beautiful beaches of the world by international news broadcaster CNN.
In 2018, 1.17 million tourists, including 270,523 foreign guests, have visited the Cagayan region, many of them bound for Palaui.
—VILLAMOR VISAYA JR.
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