Aerial photo of Hidden Beach courtesy of the El Nido Wild Adventure Travel & Tours. (File photo)
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Palawan’s tourism office reported an increase in domestic and foreign arrivals following an 84 percent drop in 2020 from 1.9 million in 2019.

According to Maribel Buñi, provincial tourism officer, COVID-19 disease had affected the accommodations and destinations, but they are expecting full recovery with the opening of the province’s gateways again to travelers.

“Ang benchmark natin ay 2019 kung kailan (Our benchmark year was 2019 when) we had 1.9 million tourist arrivals; very sad in 2020 that we [had] an 84 percent decrease,” Buñi said.

Domestic arrivals via the travel bubble, she said, are currently supporting Palawan’s tourism sector. Since reopening in January, the province has already recorded at least 100,000 visitors through May of this year.

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Currently, they are intensifying their collaboration with local government units (LGUs) and the private sector to promote Palawan tourism.

Buñi also mentioned that, in addition to tourism, they must prepare other provincial destinations and sites for incoming tourists.

“We have to ready our attractions, destinations and sites. Kahit walang pandemic ay marami pa rin tayong dapat paghandaan pati mga service provider kasi sinasabi nga natin na we do not just sell rooms, we sell experiences (Even when there is no pandemic, we have a lot to prepare for, including our service providers, because we don’t just sell rooms, we sell experiences),” she said.

“‘Repeat visits is also one of our targets. Mas maganda kung ang tourist ay makadala ng times 10 dami ng visitors (It is preferable if the tourist can bring ten times the number of visitors),” Buñi added.

Full recovery by end of the year
Department of Tourism (DOT) MIMAROPA regional director Atty. Bevienne Malateo said the province’s number in tourist arrivals is, so far, looking good.

Based on their observation, it will spring back full at the end of the year. “We are expecting that by the end of this year, hopefully, we will be able to reach the same figure in 2019,” Malateo said.

She also stated that regardless of the fact that Palawan is on Alert Level 2, they have seen an increase in tourist arrivals.

“Maganda ang outlook, kahit hindi pa na-reach ang number ng international tourists kahit nasa Alert Level 2 pa (The outlook is promising even if it hasn’t reached the number of international tourists, considering it’s still under Alert Level 2),” Malateo added.

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is the chief of correspondents of Palawan News. She covers defense, politics, tourism, health, and sports stories. She loves to travel and explore different foods.