The Palawan Tourism Council (PTC) is urging local government units (LGUs) to build up efforts to promote culinary tours and cultural heritage exploration in the province to help accelerate its reemergence as a tourist destination in the aftermath of the pandemic.

Consisting of private travel industry stakeholders, the PTC envisions Palawan as a prime cultural tourism destination because of its rich heritage, stunning natural environment, abundant marine resources, and lively communities.

Council president Rey Felix Rafols said in an interview Sunday that Palawan has the potential to attract more international tourists in search of distinctive experiences if it can offer gastronomic journeys and visits to culturally-rich destinations.

He noted that these will also offer solution to the challenge of the “off-season”, a period when there is typically a presumed lower influx of visitors to a particular destination.

“We have to really strengthen our cultural tourism because that’s year-round. Of course, yong food tourism din natin kasi wala namang off-season ang food tour. Lalo na kasi yong food tourism natin is still very young. It’s not like Bacolod or Pampanga na mga food tourism capitals. There’s still room for growth, we can develop this tourism product,” he said.

Rafols emphasized the importance of support from LGUs in financing the restoration and enhancement of tour packages for significant sites in the province. These include the old or ancestral homes in Aborlan town located in the southern part of Palawan, indigenous peoples’ (IP) gatherings during weekends in select municipalities, and Dewil Valley in El Nido.

Ongoing excavation efforts by archeologists from the University of the Philippines (UP) in Dewil Valley have uncovered human burials and foot bone fragments from an extinct species of tiger within Ille Cave.

“Allocating resources to these areas, the LGUs can unlock their tourism potentials and offer visitors unique and culturally significant experiences,” he said.

On Saturday, 17 June, the PTC opened the Palawan Tourism Travel Fair 2023 at Robinson’s Place Palawan, where Rafols stressed this.

According to him, the theme of the travel fair, “Experience a Renewed Palawan: Celebrating People, Festival, Places, Food, and Culture,” encapsulates the notion that Palawan has an abundance of attractions beyond its beaches.

Developing heritage tourism for Palawan, he emphasized, is important as it will help preserve and showcase the province’s unique cultural identity and historical significance.

“When we promote and protect heritage sites, traditions, and artifacts, can be preserved. It fosters a sense of pride among local residents and allows them to share their heritage with visitors, contributing to the overall cultural richness of a destination,” he said.