The tourism industry in El Nido has returned to its pre-pandemic status, with tourist arrivals matching those before the outbreak of COVID-19 in 2020, a top municipal tourism official said.

El Nido municipal tourism officer Sharmaine Nur said that tourism establishments in the town are fully operational again, with a noticeable resurgence in the industry as the peak season approaches.

“I think it was by the second quarter of the year when we touched our 2019 highest arrival (of tourists) so we already reached that mark. Right now, we are approaching peak season and that has been the trend over the years where our peak season starts on November to December and that will continue until the month of April or May but the highest is usually March,” Nur told Palawan News.

“We’ve been talking to the stakeholders and they are already feeling the peak season that’s coming so we are very lucky and fortunate that in a world where tourism is still recovering, El Nido is one of the places that I believe bounced back very quickly,” she added, stressing that the town’s tourism has not only returned to its pre-pandemic levels but is now more vibrant than before.

Nur also mentioned that preparations are underway for the upcoming Balinsasayaw Festival 2023, set to take place this December.

She explained that a range of activities has been planned for the festival, which will also mark the beginning of the Holiday Season.

“We are (once again) celebrating the Balinsasayaw Festival which we last held before the pandemic. So we are rebooting our festivities and that’s scheduled on the 1st to 2nd week of December (4-9),” she said.

Activities for the two-week long celebration include volleyball and badminton tournaments, surfing competition, dwmce contest, motocross, and grand parade.

“And, of course, we will have a tourism and hospitality congress, 2nd El Nido Tourism Summit,” she said.

Meanwhile, Nur also lauded the newly opened Townsquare El Nido Heritage District for its contributions to the development of the municipality’s tourism industry.

“They are becoming a partner especially in the provision of safe water because it has been an issue that we’ve been trying to address since the start of our rehabilitation. We know that it is a major problem that we have to address, so with town square doing that, they have become a partner, she added.

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