With an initial budget of P205 million, the city government of Puerto Princesa City is going to salvage its tourism industry, gunning for “gradual reopening” as it gears for economic recovery.

Crafted in coordination with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Strengthening Urban Resilience for Growth and Equity (SURGE) project, a tourism reopening and recovery plan (TRRP) was hatched for the tourism sector that was “hardly hit by the pandemic”.

Aileen Cynthia Amurao, through a press statement by the USAID on Friday, said that the COVID-19 response fund will be utilized to “implement measures to prevent community transmission through thorough health screening of incoming travelers, and detection and isolation of symptomatic and asymptomatic cases”.

The tourism recovery plan, which was a prerequisite by the Department of Tourism (DOT) for reopening tourist destinations, includes establishing a COVID-19 laboratory to test arriving tourists.

The city’s tourism strategy, divided into three phases, will first allow tourism-related establishments to cater to locals living in the city and in the Palawan province. The second phase will allow the entry of travelers from other “low-risk regions and provinces”, staging for the final phase which allows the entry of all other local and foreign tourists.

The TRRP would enhance the operations of its community-based sustainable tourism sites by “putting in place a safety net for the displaced tourism workers”.

In 2019, the tourism receipts generated more than P5.45 billion worth of revenues, with at least 1.2 million tourist arrivals. The figures dropped by 80 percent in the first quarter of 2020 when the national government-imposed travel restrictions mid-March.

The TRRP, which was presented to the DOT and other key tourism stakeholders on September 1, is yet to undergo finalization as the “timeline and other strategic measures” are being completed.

(With a report from Jeshyl Guiroy)



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is a desk editor and senior reporter of Palawan News. He covers politics, environment, tourism, justice, and sports. In his free time, he enjoys long walks with his dog, Bayani.