The Puerto Princesa City Tourism Office (CTO) said they will push for easing more travel restrictions in order to bring back other domestic flight routes to encourage more tourist arrivals in the coming months.

The CTO is also looking into when the travel bubble, which was put in place in December 2021 to stop COVID-19 from spreading, will be taken down.

Demetrio Alvior Jr., the city’s tourism officer, said they also saw a big rise in arrivals in mid-February, when the national government put Puerto Princesa on Alert Level 2.

“This February dumami talaga, simula noong lumuwag na tayo ng restrictions. Ang mahirap din kasi, marami tayong destinations sa city na naapektuhan ng Odette. Kaya ang mga travel agencies, dinadala na rin ng mga guests nila sa ibang lugar like San Vicente and El Nido,” Alvior said in an interview on Thursday.

According to data obtained by Palawan News, the city recorded a total of 1,158 arrivals from December 8, 2022, to February 24, 2022.Starting February 16, the city’s Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) removed the mandatory quarantine for all travelers. Tourists were also allowed to stay for more than four days. Alvior said because of this new development, they are now looking into encouraging tourists to stay longer in the city and in Palawan.

“Now, we are looking into paano i-prolong ang stay ng mga tourists, lalo na this March. We are also looking into bringing back our other flights, kasi ngayon, Puerto-Manila lang ang meron tayo. So baka ibalik na rin natin ang Cebu. At by this first quarter, pati ang cruise ship baka ibalik na rin,” he added.

Alvior added that if COVID-19 cases in Puerto Princesa continue to drop, and if the city stays under Alert Level 2, they will push for the removal of the travel bubble. This will essentially allow tourists to roam freely around the city, travel without an itinerary, and visit more sites and destinations.

Under the current travel bubble, tourists are only allowed to enter if they coordinate their trip with an accredited travel agency or tour operator.

“Baka i-recommend na tanggalin na ang travel bubble sa darating na meeting with IATF. Magdedepende pa rin kasi sa ating alert level sa mga darating na araw, at pati na rin sa number of cases natin,” Alvior added.