The entrance of Hundred Caves in Barangay Tagabinet, one of the CBSTs in the "Premiere Ecotourism circuit" of Puerto Princesa City. PN photo

With the gradual reopening of Puerto Princesa’s tourism industry, city tourism chief Demetrio Alvior Jr. challenged community-based sustainable tourism (CBST) stakeholders to find innovative ways to attract more tourists.

Alvior particularly challenged members and officers of CBST destinations in barangays Buenavista, Tagabinet, and Cabayugan.

CBST sites found in these barangays include Sabang Falls, Sabang Mangrove Paddle Boat Tour, Sabang Sea Ferry, Jungle Trail, Isla Filomena, Ugong Rock, Hundred Caves, Tagabinet View Deck, and Baruang Magic Island.

The CBSTs are included in the Northwest Tourism Circuit or the “Premier Ecotourism” destinations, which the City Tourism Office (CTO) relaunched on Thursday, June 16.

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Alvior explained that they have divided the city’s tourism destinations into six circuits, first of which is the “Premiere Ecotourism” destinations. “The primary anchor in this destination is of course the Underground River,” he said.

Circuit 2 is the northeast part of the city which he said was the most severely damaged by typhoon Odette; Circuit 3 is the premier island destination which is Honda Bay; Circuit 4 is yung central business district anchored primarily on city tour; Circuit 5 is the world class beach destinations natin in the west coast; and Circuit 6 is the Acacia Tunnel in Tagbarungis where an Acacia Park will be established.

“Ang isang challenge ko lang sa inyo ay, kailangan nating mag-innovate. Dumaan tayo![sa] lahat ng hirap, hindi natin ini-expect yun, hindi natin napaghandaan. Yung pandemic, two years wala tayong income, tinamaan pa tayo ng Odette,” Alvior said.

He said innovations that he wants to see include product rebranding, and processes and services enhancement among others, which he said will be achieved through appropriate trainings and workshops.

He further stated that after the two-year hiatus brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, tourists will crave for new destinations and adventures.

“Gusto namin kayong bigyan ng isang magandang training, lalo na sa customer service. Baka next year kasi ayusin pa namin yung fund. Ang objective kasi natin ngayon, ang average stay ng turista sa Puerto Princesa ay three days nights and four days. So gawin nating limang gabi para mas maraming maikutan, malaking maitulong sa economy,” he explained.

“So dapat, ayusin ang services natin. Sa inyo sa mga destinations, hindi pwedeng kung ano yung bago mag-pandemic, ngayon ganun pa rin. Hindi pwedeng kung ano yung ino-offer natin noon, yun pa rin. Yung iba na kung ano yung nakikita nila na medyo hindi angkop, i-innovate nila, huwag sila mag-stay sa kung ano yung inumpisahan nila.
kasi, yung market natin nagbabago siya. So titingnan natin kung saan yung medyo mahina sila at yun ang i-improve nila kasi dapat, tuloy-tulong tayo nag-i-improve, hindi paatras kundi forward dapat,” he added.

Another enhancement that he said he wants to include is for tourists to have more activities as add-on which is unique to a particular destination.

“For example, yung sina-suggest ko dito sa Hundred Caves, malapad yung lugar so pwede sila mag-farming ng gulay. Ipa-experience natin sa mga turista natin kasi walang malapad na lupa sa lugar nila. Bigyan mo sila ng activities – mamitas sila ng gulay, bibilhin nila, pwede nilang ipaluto para kainin. Hindi yun matitikman ng taga ibang lugar yung fresh from the farm lulutuin, mag-serve ka ng buko, nilagang saging, tinolang manok (na native.) yun yung mga experience na hindi mababayaran,” he stated.

Alvior also said in order for the CBSTs to gain additional income, they need to coordinate with travel agencies. He also said they will schedule a meeting for them to be able to come up with arrangements for a business-to-business transactions.

“Kailangan natin na i-link sila, mag-bridge sa kanila sa right agency na makakatulong sa kanilang mga negosyo,” he said.

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