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The city government of Puerto Princesa unveiled new tourism sites with the opening of the Community Based Sustainable Tourism (CBST) sites along with the associations and cooperatives managing them under the Northeast Tourism Circuit (Circuit 2).

Imelda Yayen of the City Tourism Department (CTD) said that the launching of the northeast tourism cluster held in Barangay Langogan on Thursday is a sign that the tourism industry is moving towards full recovery following the onslaught of Typhoon Odette, where the northern part of the city was hit hardest, and the almost two years of hiatus because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Isa itong hudyat na talagang tuloy-tuloy na ang ating pagbangon. Last two years ay lahat tayo naka face mask, nakakulong sa ating mga tahanan, naka-social distancing. At tanong natin, hanggang kailan kaya ito?” Yayen said.

“At sana, doon sa ating mga experiences ay may natutunan tayo na ang pangalagaan hindi lamang ang ating kalikasan kundi maging ang ating kultura. At yan nga ang ating thematic concept dito sa northeast cluster,” she added.

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She also said that most of the places on the circuit aren’t fully restored yet, but that things are getting better all the time, especially since the groups in charge of the sites have been brought back to life.

“So sana pagtulungan nating maiahon ang industriya ng turismo at sana ay patuloy ang ating empowerment, unity na tuloy-tuloy na tayong makabawi. Kaya ginigising din natin dito ang mga association na namamahala ng ating CBST na natulog noong pandemic,” she said.

Meanwhile, Vice Mayor Maria Nancy M. Socrates also announced the approval by the Sangguniang Panlungsod of the P10 million fund allocation for the assistance in the rehabilitation of CBST sites. She said that with the additional funds, the city government is expecting a faster recovery of the local destinations to accommodate tourists. The budget was redirected from the microbusiness livelihood assistance for the tourism sector affected by Typhoon Odette to the CBST gear-up program.

“Naaprubahan na po ang P10 million para sa mga CBST natin para magamit sa development, we are hoping na magamit ‘yan sa tinatawag na CBST Gear Up Program dahil nakita ng city council ang pangangailangan para sa CBST. Kayo ang tinututukan dahil sa pagbubukas ng turismo at para makabangon talaga,” Socrates said.

“Ito ang tinitingnan natin na magiging panimula ng ating pagbangon hindi lang mula sa pandemya kundi maging dahil sa bagyong Odette. Nakita ng city council na ito ay isang pangangailangan para sa ating mga CBST. At lahat ng efforts ay nakatuon ngayon sa inyo dahil kayo ang tinitingnan na magdadala sa ating turismo, at kayo ang isang sector na talagang tutulong sa ating lungsod para makaahon tayo,” she explained.

Socrates also told the associations managing the CBSTs to live up to the challenge of making their destinations better.

“So ito ay may kasama ring challenge na pagandahin ang inyong CBST. At paala-ala rin, yung ibang CBST mayroon pang concerns like tenural instruments at iba pang pangangailangan upang masiguro na pwede ninyong gamitin at i-manage yung area Ninyo,” she said.

The Northeast Circuit CBST destinations include Maranreg Caves in Barangay Lucbuan, Maoyon River Cruise in Brgy. Maoyon, Babuyan Twin Sandbars in Brgy. Babuyan, Taraw Caves in Brgy. San Rafael, Batak Visitor Center in Brgy. Concepcion, Olangoan Waterfalls in Brgy. Binduyan,and Arutayan Falls in Brgy. Langogan.

The sites are being run and managed by Maoyon CBST Association Inc., Lucbuan CBST Association, Babuyan Sandbars CBST, Taraw Cave CBST Inc., Langogan Angat Turismo Association (LATA), Binduyan Community Tourism Association, and the Batak indigenous Peoples community.

With the reopening of tourism after the pandemic had subsided, tourist destinations throughout the city were clustered into six circuits according to their geographical locations and branded as different tour packages.

The other clusters are the Northwest Circuit, which is the premier ecotourism destination anchored by the Puerto Princesa Underground River and includes Isla Filomena, Mangrove Paddle Boat, Jungle Trail, Ugong Rock, Hundred Caves, and Sabang Falls at Buenavista View Deck. The circuit was launched in June this year.

The Batak Visitor Center is the most featured, which is centered on the culture and tradition of the Batak community. This was also the most devastated site, as the entire center was wiped out by Odette.

Circuit 3 features the city’s premier island destination, which is Honda Bay. Circuit 4 is in the central business district and features a city tour in Plaza Cuartel, the World War II Memorial Museum, and Balayong Peoples’ Park, among others, Circuit 5 includes the world-class beach destinations on the west coast, and Circuit 6 features Acacia Tunnel, where a nature park is being developed.

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