The management of the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park (PPSRNP) believes that the economy of the park’s communities is beginning to recover as a result of the growing number of tourists visiting the underground river, and it hopes to revert to previous levels of traffic once international flights resume.
According to park administrator Beth Maclang, PPUR now receives roughly 400 domestic and international visitors per day, up from 10 on January 2. Maclang noted that, two years after the pandemic began, the park management’s community-based sustainable tourism (CBST) sites are also rebounding.
She said if international flights are permitted at Puerto Princesa International Airport and the level 1 status is maintained, PPUR traffic might reach 1,200 passengers per day.
“Ang CBST sites natin ay coping up din tulad ng mangrove paddle boat tour, open na sila, yong hundred caves, ‘yong Sabang Falls nag-uumpisa na rin. Recovering sila kasi nandiyan na si PPUR, yong mga bisita na nandiyan para mag-alalay don sa alternative sites ay buhay na buhay kasi yong ekonomiya ng communities nakasalalay sa PPUR tour,” Maclang said.
“Tinitingnan namin na kung mabubuksan na ang international flights at magmi-maintain tayo ng level 1,. At the same time ‘yong Manila at yong iba pang lugar at yong iba pang bansa ay mag-o-open na rin sila para makapunta sa ibang bansa ang kanilang mga nasasakupan. Iyon ang hinihintay natin na babalik tayo ng ganon karaming arrivals like 1,200 a day at babalik na rin ang entrance fee ng PPUR,” she added.
Maclang emphasized that the present volume of visitors to PPUR, which is around 400 per day and not less than 200, is an important figure for the institution’s success. The management is also steadily repairing the damage to its facilities caused by Typhoon Odette.
Due to the lack of entrance fees since 2020, the management is relying heavily on its leftover resources and unutilized budget to cover expenses. Apart from improving the amenities, Maclang stated that the management must also protect the salaries of its personnel.
The increased number of boats following the typhoon’s destruction also helps to accommodate more tourists per day, Maclang said.
It can be recalled that in December 2021, the damages to boats were the immediate concern expressed by the Sabang Sea Ferry Multipurpose Cooperative (SSFM) after Odette’s onslaught.
It nearly wiped off the members’ means of subsistence, as they also utilize their boats for fishing as a source of income, particularly during the pandemic.
“After Odette, out of 86 na service ferry boats, tatlo lang ang survivor diyan. Ngayon 27 na kaya pwede na i-cater ang almost hanggang 700 na guests natin. Marami pang ginagawa sa tulong ng sponsors, sa tulong ng national government, of course ng city government,” Maclang said.