The underground river at Sitio Sabang, Barangay Cabayugan, will reopen operations on December 8 to local tourists, after several months of hiatus due to the coronavirus disease pandemic.
Elizabeth Maclang, park superintendent (PASu) of the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park (PPSRNP), said Sunday during the launching of the “Balik Turismo, Balik Trabaho” promotional campaign that the number of visitors they will allow entry will only be 500 for the time being.
Maclang said they made some changes in the protocols within the park to assure readiness to accommodate local tourists under the new normal.
She said that their promotional campaign aims to inform the public that they are ready to accommodate tourists.
“This activity is to inform the general public na Sabang is safe and ready to accommodate tourists under the new normal. May mga pagbabago lamang tayo, kagaya ng number of tourists na tatanggapin natin,” she said.
Maclang said they will only allow around 500 out of the usual 1,500 visitors they are receiving per day to strictly observe health protocols to prevent COVID-19.
“Ang tinitingnan namin ay nasa 500 per day ang kaya. Dati nasa 1,200 per day pero kailangan natin magbawas,” Maclang said.
She also added that they are not accepting walk-in tourists for the time being to document and track the number of visitors.
“Strictly no walk-in tayo kasi kailangan natin ma-monitor lahat,” she said.
According to her, they also made some developments in the park and other community-based sustainable tourism (CBST) sites in relation with its operation under, including the proper implementation of health protocols.
“Marami tayong ginawang twist kasama na d’yan ang may mga checkpoint tayo kung saan doon nila kinukuha ang temperature, at may health declaration forms din. May nilagay din tayo na mga washing areas sa beach, sa wharf at maging sa mga CBST sites natin,” Maclang said.
Aside from the implementation of the minimum health standards, she said that they are planning to adjust the entrance fees in the other sites like PPUR to be affordable.
However, this will be subject to the amendment of the ordinance by the City Council.
“Kasama sa ilang mga binago natin ay ang magbigay ng mababang entrance fee, itong PPUR na dating P500 ang rate ay gusto ni mayor (Lucilo Bayron) na hanggang P100 sana pero kailangan mag-amend pa ang ating Sangguniang (Panlungsod),” she said.
Maclang said that they are expecting to provide jobs to the residents several months after the pandemic caused damages damages in their income.
“Of course, sa pagbubukas ng ating turismo, we also expect na marami ang balik trabaho although hindi ganoon kadami ang ating inaasahan na turista,” she said.
Maclang, in addition, invited Palaweños to visit all sites in Sabang not only the PPUR but also the CBSTs such as Sabang Falls, Isla Felomina, and other nearby sites including Ugong Rock and Hundred Caves.
“Sa mga kababayan natin, pagkakataon na natin na puntahan ang mga lugar natin dito, maraming magagandang lugar na pwede ninyong puntahan. Ang event natin na ito ay in connection doon sa ating opening sa December 8,” she said.
The Association of Accredited Tourist Accommodation in Puerto Princesa City (ATTAPP), Sabang Community, travel agencies, city government, and PPUR management organized the activity promotions campaign.
Palawan bikers associations, 3rd Marine Brigade, 53rd Marine Company, Naval Reserve Center West, Reconnaisance Group, Philippine Coast Guard, PNP and other government agencies participated in the activity.
Recently, the city government conducted a Tourism Caravan to formally announce the opening of some local destinations such as Tagkawayan Beach.