BIMP-EAGA Business Council chairman Victor Lao (3rd from right) during the 1st Northern Palawan Business Forum, Matching and Expo held in El Nido from August 15-17, 2019.

Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) Business Council chairman and Davao businessman Vicente Lao said Palawan’s tourism economy potential is strong but leaders must learn “supply-chain management” to locally handle its demand for food and services.

Lao said when the province has learned the process of dealing with the flow of goods, storing basic materials from which products are made, superlative tourism services in all aspects, and others related, it can rely on its own and not depend on importing commodities from other provinces.

Local production is the key, especially in El Nido and other tourism destination towns were food prices are high because basic necessities are still purchased and acquired outside the province.

“Palawan has a lot of potential, this is a tourist economy. When the tourists come, you need to feed them. You will need chicken, you will need pork, vegetables, those are still potentials that Palawan can really tap into. Tulad nyan na may nagsabi na magtatayo sila ng bagong resort, kakailanganin ng pagkain, ‘yon ang mga dapat tingnan ng mga taga-Palawan na this is an opportunity for us to produce food,” he said Friday, August 16.

1st Northern Palawan Business Forum, Matching and Expo delegates in El Nido.

Lao was in El Nido to attend the 1st Northern Palawan Business Forum, Matching and Expo organized by the Palawan Economic Development Council (PEDCO) and the BIMP-EAGA Business Council or BEBC.

Lao said Palawan can be considered as a “tourism economy” because its tourist arrivals is more than the number of its actual population.

He said businessmen and entrepreneurs in Palawan should explore the idea of getting more involved into food production that can compete against the prices of products brought in from other regions.

Lao added what makes food expensive is because they are not all locally sourced and transportation costs are added when they are turned into finished products.

“Palawan has a very good potential, it’s a tourist economy. In a tourist economy situation, you will have more opportunity because prices are better kasi turista ‘yong mga customer mo when they come to spend vacations kasi hindi naman nila talagang titipirin ‘yon. They just want to enjoy, you can mark up a little than you are selling to domestic market. Pero huwag naman sobra,” he said.

He said vegetable supplies from Manila should no longer be the case in the province because it has fertile lands that can be farmed for them.

If locally-produced, prices can be cheaper since no more cost for freight and travel will be added.

“You just have to manage the supply chain, tulad ng sinasabi na ang vegetables ay manggagaling pa sa Maynila. Sabi ko why don’t you just plant vegetables here, definitely you will be able to sell that cheaper. Ang problema lang walang nag-ma-manage ng supply chain. If you manage the supply chain properly, then you will be able to take advantage of the price difference between what you produce here and what you can import from Manila,” he said.