The first three months of 2023 saw a significant uptick in the number of tourists visiting Palawan, with a total of 364,521 tourists, according to partial data presented by the Provincial Tourism Promotion and Development Office (PTPDO).

In a presentation that she gave on April 13 as part of an orientation for the Department of Tourism (DOT) Accreditation System, provincial tourism officer Maribel Buñi stated that the total number of tourist arrivals is 183,540 domestic visitors and 180,981 tourists from other countries.

El Nido took the lead with 143,144 tourists, followed by Coron with 38,392, and San Vicente with 29,174. Puerto Princesa City, the capital of Palawan, recorded 120,535 tourist arrivals among the top destinations in Palawan,

The United States of America accounted for 11,237 of the total number of visitors from other countries, making it the most important market. It was followed by the Netherlands (5,824), France (5,417), Spain (4,257), Australia (4,064), Italy (3,914), Canada (3,536), Germany (3,110), the United Kingdom (3,033), and Switzerland (2,630).

Palawan also dominated the Top 10 Destinations in the MIMAROPA (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, and Palawan) region in March 2023, with six destinations making it to the list. El Nido secured the top spot, followed by Puerto Princesa City, Coron, San Vicente, Linapacan at the fourth spot, and Brooke’s Point at the 10th spot.

Lawyer Christian Jay Cojamco, information chief of the province, told Palawan News that the data shows a significant difference from the same period last year.

“If we compare it sa same period last year kung saan pinayagan nang magbukas ang Pilipinas for world travel at para sa pandaigdigang turismo with travel bubble in some top destinations in Palawan,  the data we have right now shows na malaki ang difference  kasi sa first two months last year nasa  more or less 45,000 lang ang tourist arrivals (If we compare it to the same period last year when the Philippines allowed for world travel and international tourism with travel bubble arrangements in some top destinations in Palawan, the data we have right now shows a significant difference because in the first two months last year, there were only around 45,000 tourist arrivals),” he said.

“Noong June 2022 nasa 270,000 [ang arrivals,] so kung titingnan natin ang trend ngayon, nasa more or less 100,000 tourist arrivals kada buwan, so we are on the right track kung magtutuloy-tuloy ang ganitong trend kada buwan para kahit paano ay ma reach natin ang target, at we believe na tataas pa ito after summer season (In June 2022, there were 270,000 arrivals, so if we look at the current trend, we are now at around 100,000 tourist arrivals per month. So we are on the right track if this trend continues every month, so that we can reach our target, and we believe that it will increase further after the summer season),” added Cojamco.

If the present trend continues, he believes Palawan has a fair chance of hitting its tourism arrivals target of one million by the end of the year or coming close to the 1.9 million visitors registered in 2019.

Although wet months may result in low arrival numbers, he stressed that the PTPDO, under Buñi’s direction, and the local tourist offices are optimistic that vacationers and holidaymakers would prioritize Palawan on their lists of destinations to visit.

“We believe na tataas pa ito after summer season, lalo na nitong nakalipas na Holy Week na marami ang nagbakasyon dito sa Palawan. Pero syempre may mga months din na mababa ang turn out ng tourist arrivals lalo na sa panahon ng tag-ulan, but we are hoping na magtuloy-tuloy ito (We believe that it will further increase after the dry season, especially after the recent Holy Week where many people took vacations here in Palawan. However, there are also months with low tourist arrivals, especially during the rainy season, but we are hoping that this trend will continue),” he said.

With a rising number of tourists visiting Palawan, Cojamco stated that the PTPDO is continuing to undertake employee and frontliner trainings and meetings, as well as marketing efforts to reach potential visitors.

The goal is to further improve the quality of services supplied to visitors in the province by agencies, institutions, and tourism partners.

The tourism industry in Palawan, like many other places, has been significantly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Known for its beautiful beaches, stunning landscapes, and rich biodiversity, it has traditionally been a popular tourist destination in the Philippines. However, the pandemic led to various travel restrictions, lockdowns, and safety measures that have impacted its tourism industry.

Their implementation to control the spread of COVID-19 has resulted in a significant decline in tourist arrivals. Many domestic and international flights were suspended or limited, and travel advisories were issued, discouraging non-essential travel. This has resulted in a sharp decrease in the number of tourists visiting, leading to economic challenges for businesses and individuals relying on tourism for their livelihoods for three years.