Talks are underway for the return of large cruise ships and international chartered flights to Puerto Princesa City next year, a top tourism official said.
City Tourism Department (CTD) chief Demetrio Alvior Jr. announced on Wednesday ongoing negotiations with the MS Queen Elizabeth’s management in preparation for the ship’s docking in the city next year.
He said the return of commercial and chartered flights from Puerto Princesa to Hong Kong and Taiwan is also being discussed with Cebu Pacific and Tiger Air respectively.
“Supposed to be, may darating na cruise ship this October pero hindi natuloy. Next year, malalaki ang cruise ships na darating. Babalik yung Queen Elizabeth–yung pinakamalaking cruise ship na pumunta dito,” he said during the Kapihan of the Philippine Information Agency (PIA).
“Kausap ko kahapon (October 11) ang Cebu Pacific, may mga inaayos lang din… kasi dapat meron tayong commercial flights na Puerto Princesa-Hongkong. Hindi lang kasi stable yung peace and order dahil may bagong tension dyan sa area na yan. Pero meron tayong tinitingnan dyan. Pero ang chartered flights, napag-usapan namin kahapon, baka matuloy ang chartered flight ng Tiger Air na Puerto Princesa-Taiwan, twice a week,” Alvior added.
At the same time, negotiations for the return of direct flights from Korea, China, and Malaysia are still being worked out.
He said the city used to have a flight every week to and from Malaysia, but the tourism department is now looking for other ways to reach the Southeast Asian market.
One possible means of expanding is for the Buliluyan Port in Bataraza municipality to operate vessels that would ferry travelers from the region.
“Pinapa-workout pa natin sa Department of Tourism (DOT). Nilalakad nila na maibalik siguro,” he said.
“Pero ang Malaysia baka hindi chartered flight kundi RORO (roll-on, roll-off). So, kung mag-operate na yung Buliluyan Port, open na tayo sa Southeast Asian countries, six hours lang nasa Palawan na. I-expect natin na tayo yung magiging gateway,” he added.
Flights from Visayas being pushed
Alvior also said that travel agencies in Visayas are trying to get local airlines to open flight routes to the city.
“Nandito ngayon yung ilang travel agencies from Cebu, Bohol and Iloilo, kasama yung manager ng PAL sa Iloilo. Sila mismo ang nagpu-push ng flights to Puerto Princesa,” he said.
Amidst all these negotiations, Alvior ensured that destinations in the city are prepared to welcome guests.
“Tamang-tama rin na naka-recover na ng husto yung ating mga destinations at stable na. although hindi pa rin talaga na zero-out yung COVID at nandyan pa rin,” he added. (with reports from Gerald Ticke)