A paddle boat full of tourists prepares to enter the underground river in this file photo (2021) from the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park & World Heritage Site.(PN file photo)

The management of the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park (PPSRNP) is seeking to bring back their old rates for tours of the underground river due to increasing number of visitors.

Park management also signified that they need to increase their rates so that their staff’s incomes will be guaranteed and will no longer rely on their past savings, according to park superintendent Beth Maclang.

Maclang added that they are already accepting an average of 200 tourists a day, and that they believe it is time to increase their rates from P100 to P500 per head.

“On average, hindi na kami bumababa ng 200 a day. Simula noong January, nasa sampu o lima, tapos naging 50-60, pataas nang pataas hanggang ngayon,” Maclang said in a phone interview of Saturday.

“Kaya nag-request kaming nasa Protected Area Management Office (PAMO) sa City Council na ibalik talaga yong old rate namin na P500. Sa ngayon, critical ang stage namin dahil itong year na ito, hanggang December, wala na kaming pangsuweldo, tsaka para sa operations namin,” she added.

Maclang explained that the Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) will also need to pass a resolution to the Council in order to bring back the old rates.

Meanwhile, when asked how park management is dealing with large volumes of tourists despite the tour boats damaged by Typhoon “Odette,” Maclang stated that enough boats have been repaired so far to accommodate their arrivals.

“Ang survivor natin tatlo lang after Odette. Ngayon, 27 na [ang repaired]. Kaya na nating mag-accommodate ng conventions, meetings, kasi nasa 500 ang kaya ng ating mga bangka,” she added.

However, some community-based sustainable tourism (CBST) sites are still unable to accommodate tourists due to the damage brought by “Odette.” Maclang said that the Sabang Falls are still inaccessible due to debris. However, some CBSTs are beginning to recover, such as the Mangrove Paddleboat Tour, Hundred Caves, Isla Filomena are slowly recovering, according to Maclang.

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is a senior reporter for Palawan News who covers politics, education, environment, tourism, and human interest stories. She loves watching Netflix, reading literary fiction, and listens to serial fiction podcasts. Her favorite color is blue.