Boat operators who used to cater to tourists that visit Honda Bay in Puerto Princesa City. (Photo courtesy of USAID)

Puerto Princesa City mayor Luclio Bayron is not keen on re-opening the city’s tourism industry any time this year, citing the lack of international travelers due to worldwide pandemic restrictions and the looming threat of the Delta variant.

Bayron said that the safest thing to do is to first achieve herd immunity among Puerto Princesa residents, which he estimated may be attained before March 2022.

“Malayo pa tayo sa herd immunity. Pero, slowly, we are getting there. Ako, ine-estimate ko, hindi siguro tayo aabot ng March next year. Kapag naabutan na natin ‘yon [herd immunity], maybe we can start opening the economy natin,” Bayron said in a speech on Monday during a Safety Seal awarding ceremony at the NCCC Mall (Lacao).

“Maraming instance na sinasabihan kami na buksan na natin ang tourism ng Puerto Princesa. Hindi ako naniniwala na mabubuhay [muli] kapag binuksan natin ngayon. Kasi, wala namang mga biyahero, walang travelers dahil unang-una, ang hirap mag-travel. Kapag inabutan ka ng lockdown, napakaraming mga requirements, at maraming establishments na sarado,” he added.

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Bayron assured that the city’s purchased vaccines are arriving in the coming days, which hopefully will speed up the city’s goal of vaccinating the entire eligible population. He added that everyone must pitch into the city’s vaccination efforts by encouraging friends and family members to get vaccinated.

As of August 17, the Puerto Princesa City CoVac data recorded a total of 75,912 individuals who have received their vaccinations. However, only 31,672 of that number are fully vaccinated.

Unlike tourism towns such as El Nido, Busuanga, Coron, and San Vicente, Puerto Princesa did not re-open its doors to domestic tourists since it was declared under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ). Inbound travelers are also required to undergo mandatory 10-day quarantine and antigen testing, and travel for tourism remains prohibited.

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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.