Puerto Princesa eyed as “caving capital”

Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park (Photo credit: palawanday.ru)

Puerto Princesa City is planning to tap into its numerous caves as a potential tourist attraction in a bid to position itself as the country’s caving capital.

City Tourism Officer Aileen Cynthia Amurao said they will conduct more research to look into the potential of known caves and promote them as tourism destinations.

“We are positioning Puerto Princesa to become the Caving Capital of the Philippines,” Amurao said in an interview.

Amurao cited the Hundred Caves located in Barangay Tagabinet as one of the main attractions they intend to develop. Discovered in the 1990s, the cave system is multi-layered and has a series of continuous narrow or winding interconnecting passages and vertical paths unlike any other cave found in the country. Surrounding the Hundred Caves, tourists can enjoy activities like guided cave tours, cave photography, rock climbing, and bird watching. (RELATED: #ExpPALAWAN: Tagabinet Hundred Caves: Awakening the spelunkers in us)

Implementing the necessary protection and conservation measures for the cave ecosystem and its surrounding environment is challenging, Amurao said. She pointed out Republic Act 9072 or the National Caves and Cave Resources Management and Protection Act of 2001, which directs the State to “conserve, protect and manage caves and cave resources as part of the country’s natural wealth.”

Other emerging destinations

Amurao said that aside from the city’s main attraction, the world-famous Puerto Princesa Underground River (PPUR), the city government is also improving some existing tourism destinations as well as other emerging tourism sites.

The interventions that the city have implemented include the improvement of the access road going to the tourism sites, construction of tourism-related facilities like Eco-Center, kiosk, green toilet, and other facility. Another important intervention is the livelihood assistance extended to the local residents. In this strategy, according to Amurao, the tourism-related capacities of the community are enhanced, which, in turn, will provide livelihood and generate income for the local residents.

She noted that the Langogan to Mauyon corridor in the northeast part of the city has been developed, with attractions that include waterfalls, rivers, production and processing of civet coffee, and cultural tourism. In the northwest, Amurao said the improvement from Buenavista to Tagabinet is in place, with community-based tourism sites.

She also said they are developing the Binduyan to Tumabag sector which offers a variety of tourism attractions such as cultural tourism, the Binduyan sand bars, a marine sanctuary, beach resorts including Astoria, among others. The other sites which have beach resorts and other tourists attractions that are currently being developed by the city include the Bacungan-Dungdungan to Langogan sector.

Amurao said they are doubling their efforts so that emerging tourism sites will be opened to provide economic opportunities to locals with the anticipated increase of tourist activities. She said these tourism sites are managed and handled by community-based tourism organizations which were also supported by the city government by way of extending livelihood assistance.

Among the established tourism destinations in the city are the Mauyon River Cruise, Rafting in Barangay Mauyon, Babuyan Twin Sandbars in Barangay Babuyan, the country’s first Bamboo zipbike and Ugong rock adventure in Barangay Tagabinet, the scenic Isla Filomena Diving Sites in Barangay New Panggangan, Barangay Cabayugan Community Park Warden Jungle Trekking, Palawan Ecological Adventure Trail in Barangay Simpocan and Barangay Irawan, Buenavista Viewdeck cottages and Ulugan Bay Eco Tour.

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