Puerto Princesa City expects a surge in tourist arrivals with the celebration of the Subaraw Biodiversity Festival drawing international participants and the scheduled arrival of more cruise ships as the holiday season nears.
Mayor Lucilo Bayron said during the opening ceremony of the Subaraw Biodiversity Festival on Friday that the aim of the city to make the event international is once again gaining ground after being slowed down by the pandemic. in 2020.
“We are looking to slowly turn over the management of the event to our private partners and make the celebration bigger just like the Sinulog Festival. We are just waiting for them to be fully ready before we turn over,” Bayron said.
“We need to add more international events to attract more tourists from other countries. And this year, we have incorporated international events in the celebration – wild bird photography race, Ironman 70.3 challenge, international dragon boat race. Our Miss Subaraw is already a national event with the winner coming from Angeles, Pampanga and this year, we already have 10 foreign candidates,” he added.
Last Friday night, the city government also hosted a dinner for the 25 teams composed of three members each, participating in the 6th Wild Bird Photography Race where Bayron and Department of Tourism (DOT) Mimaropa Regional Director Roberto Alabado III challenged photographers not just to bring out their skills but promote biodiversity as well.
“This event is not just a race, but a celebration for of nature’s creations and a testament to the artistry of photography. Let this event be a reminder of the importance of preserving our natural world for the next generations,” Bayron said.
Alabado on the other hand stated that the DOT has been promoting avian or bird tourism since early 2000s and has actually published two books for Philippine birds.
“Right now, we are training local guides in birding throughout Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. We are training local guides starting with bird identification and last week, we also had a regional director who we sent to Taiwan to observe the annual raptor sending off there,” he said.
“So for us in tourism, this is a very valuable treasure that we have. It is only through your lenses that we can tell the world what we have,” he added.
Furthermore, Alabado said he believes that more than taking photos of the birds, the participants must also set in their minds the goal of educating people on how to appreciate nature.
Meanwhile, the city also welcomed the 2nd of six cruise ships expected to call port in Puerto Princesa with the arrival of Norwegian Jewel on Saturday, November 4.
The ship carried with it around 3,000 passengers and crew and was welcomed by Alabado.
Last November 2, Silver Whisper also arrived with more than 600 guests and crew aboard.
Alabado expressed optimism that the tourism industry through cruise tourism is once again gaining ground and becoming Asia’s leading cruise destination.
“Simula noong 2019 pa or before the pandemic, nakikita ng DOT na ang cruise tourism ay angtaas ng paglago o yung pagtaas ng number ng cruise ships na pumupunta dahil marahil ay nakita ng mga cruise companies na napakaganda ng Pilipinas,” he told Palawan News in an interview.
“Ang tawag nga natin dito dati, the Philippines is a green field na parang bagong diskubre nila kaya parami nang parami ang cruise liners na nakapila na para pumasok sa Pilipinas,” he added.
Futhremore, Alabado said that aside from destinations with developed ports, cruise ships can also dock offshore where tourists can be fetched by small boats and transport them to the land.
“Aside from this, may mga pumupunta rin na expedition cruise, maliliit na barko pero marami pa ring dalang turista. So sa pag-develop natin ng cruise tourism sa Palawan ay sisikapin natin na ma-introduce ang iba’t-ibang bahagi pa ng lalaqwigan kung saan ay pwede nilang dalawin at magkaroon ng cultural emersion ang ating mga turista para makita ang kagandahan hindi lang ng mga isla at beaches kundi maging ng kultura,” he explained.