An independent survey conducted among online respondents in Palawan showed that the majority of local residents are not yet in favor of opening up the city and province to outside tourists, or those traveling outside the province, including foreigners. This, even as they expressed support for the government’s initiatives to re-open the industry strictly to local or domestic tourists.
The conservative attitude, the survey noted, is attributed to fear of coronavirus and the uncertainty given the absence of vaccines against the pandemic disease.
The survey, conducted by the private research firm iOptions Research during the first week of November, sought to measure the public’s awareness about tourism initiatives of the provincial government and the municipalities, except Puerto Princesa City.
Of the total respondents, only 46 percent said they were in favor of reopening Palawan’s attractions to domestic tourists. At the same time, 35 percent agreed that Palawan should re-open to foreign tourists.
The re-opening of tourism to domestic travelers is a move being pushed by the Department of Tourism, with Coron and El Nido being the first two towns in the province to have already allowed domestic travel subject to a set of health protocols.
Puerto Princesa City however has yet to follow suit and has stood against the opening of its airport to commercial travel.
Toto Alvior of the City Tourism Office (CTO) said the City Tourism Council (CTC) has already submitted to Mayor Lucilo R. Bayron “arrival protocols for the safety and security of tourists and this is for approval for now.”
“So everything is being considered including cost and timing of tests where antigens are going to be used now, including new methods of contact tracing. Once approved, it will be the new standard protocol for arriving tourists,” Alvior said.
Provincial Tourism Officer Maribel C. Buñi, on the other hand, said that while there are already general guidelines for arrivals, a new set is also being prepared for tourism.
“The provincial government has already issued Executive Order No. 81. This is the guidelines on incoming travelers but for leisure travelers, it is with the Covid Crisis Management Committee for finalization,” Buñi explained. “But of course our stand here is that we will abide with the IATF policies. We also stated that we will respect the decision of the specific LGUs,” she added.
Buñi further stated that the opening of tourism will be methodical and precise. “What the provincial government is saying is that when we open up tourism, it should be slowly but surely so we will still focus on the safety not only of the tourists but also the workers in the tourism industry,” she said.
Meanwhile, the respondents in the survey also ranked the Puerto Princesa City Baywalk, Nagtabon Beach, and Yamang Bukid Farms as the top three preferred sites visited during the pandemic.
On the provincial level, the local respondents listed El Nido, Coron, and San Vicente (Long Beach) as the top-of-mind destinations in Palawan.
The survey likewise gauged local awareness of the Palawan Muna campaign launched by the Provincial Tourism Council (PTC). The campaign, which sought to encourage destination travel within Palawan, showed that the majority, 57 percent, were unaware of the campaign.
Of those surveyed, the majority agreed with the program’s objective and indicated plans to travel within Palawan by next year.
Among those who said they were aware of the “Palawan Muna Campaign”, they indicated Palawan News, Bandera News TV Philippines, and Brigada News FM as their information source about the campaign.