The roll-on/roll-off (RoRo) route that will link Palawan to the province of Mindoro will open in 2020, a press statement from the Capitol said Friday.

The opening of the RoRo route, said the statement, was shared by Palawan Governor Jose Alvarez during the Tourism Summit 2019 held in Manila on May 2 by the ASEAN Business Advisory Council Philippines (ABACP).

“I’m asking you to be excited as we are in Palawan, we’re building a highway from Manila to Batangas and Batangas one hour to Mindoro, three hours to southern Mindoro and [another] three hours you are in Coron and this will be available by next year,” the statement quoted Gov. Alvarez.

Alvarez also reportedly shared with the participants of the summit that the sea link to Kudat, Sabah, and Kota Kinabalu from the Port of Buliluyan in Bataraza, will already begin next year.

The start of the trade link has been delayed following elections in Malaysia and alleged documentation problems that the operator of the RoRo has not yet met.

Then provincial information officer Gil Acosta Jr. said the supposed test run of the Buliluyan and Kudat RoRo ports in April 2018 was canceled following the election of the 14th Parliament.

The sea linkage route is expected to be serviced by Fastcat, a fleet of Catamaran-type RoRo vessels, being operated by Archipelago Philippine Ferries Corporation (APFC).

“Get excited about Palawan. Drive all the way to the equator via our nautical and build highways through Malaysia. That is our invitation to everyone and that will happen before the end of next year,” the statement further quoted the Palawan governor.

Alvarez claimed in the release that Palawan’s infrastructure projects are geared towards expanding the tourism industry.

He said two regional airports are now being expanded and constructed in the province in the municipalities of San Vicente and Coron, and international airports in Taytay and Brooke’s Point are now under the planning stage.

“One in the north and another in the south. So the North American market can directly land in Taytay and also the northern European market can directly… land there,” he was quoted.

Alvarez was quoted to have also stated that the 600-kilometer six-lane highway expansion project will cut short the travel time between municipalities in southern and northern Palawan.

He also added that the province is building hospitals and water infrastructure projects to make tourists comfortable of their health safety when visiting.

“We’re building 15 hospitals every 100 kilometers. That’s a very nice and well-equipped hospitals to make the tourists very comfortable and of course confident in going to the islands. We’re doing all the water infrastructures for every barangay … to have clean and mineral water-quality available for the residence and also for the tourists [sic],” the stated pointed out what he said at the summit.

He said these are required for Palawan to hit its target of receiving five million tourists per year.

Alvarez added that the tourism industry is the province’s “economic driver.”

“As of two years ago, it already contributed 36 percent to the local economy and Palawan contributes 55 percent of the total MIMAROPA economy. Since 2013 our GDP (gross domestic product) has been -1 percent and in 2017 because of our economic trust and also our tourism trust… drove us up to 6.2 percent in 2017. That’s why Palawan is so changed now,” he said in the statement.

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