Cagayan’s Palaui Island welcomes tourists again
TUGUEGARAO CITY — The 8,048-hectare Palaui Island in Santa Ana, Cagayan province, was reopened to tourists on Tuesday after a two-year closure due to pandemic-related travel restrictions, officials said.
Gwendolyn Bambalan, director of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Cagayan Valley, said the resumption of tourism activities on the island would boost the local economy and revive the source of livelihood of its residents.
The Protected Area Management Board, which oversees the island’s preservation, has not set a cap on the number of tourists allowed to enter the island since the province is under the most relaxed COVID-19 alert level 1.
The island, a protected landscape and seascape, can only accommodate 175 people at a time, and only fully vaccinated tourists will be allowed to visit.
Bambalan said the DENR implemented a P4.7-million project to improve tourism-related facilities and programs on the island, referring to an information center, monitoring system, and mangrove and watershed conservation.
Two accredited boat operators’ associations—San Vicente Motor Banca Association and Palaui San Vicente Motor Banca Association—have been ferrying tourists to the island.
Among its attractions is the historical Cape Engaño, known for its white coral beach and Spanish-era lighthouse on a hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
The island had gained international recognition after it hosted two seasons of the reality television show “Survivor USA.”
Before the pandemic, the island was visited by an average of 170,000 tourists yearly, records from the local tourism office showed. —VILLAMOR VISAYA JR.
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