The spike in tourist arrivals here during the Holy Week break has raised hopes for the long-awaited recovery of the local tourism economy that has suffered from the pandemic lockdowns.
Most resort accommodations in Part Barton and around the Long Beach areas, the two most popular local destinations in San Vicente, were fully booked during the long holiday, according to stakeholders.
Despite the power disruptions, businesses in Port Barton have reported a surge in arrivals and bookings.
“We expect the flights during the summer to be full as well,” Ino Habana of Lazuli Resort told Palawan News.
Christine Besaga, owner of Besaga Inn, noted that among the arriving guests were foreign tourists taking advantage of their bubble tourism.
Municipal tourism chief Lucy Panagsagan said before the Holy Week, they had been getting quite a good number of guests, which increased when the long weekend came.
“Before Holy Week sa Port Barton, we were averaging 25 guests per day. Ngayong Holy Week, mga 40 a day.” she said.
“Dito naman sa Long Beach, ngayong Holy Week may more than 100 tayong guests sa Sunlight Lazuli. Si Victoria, meron din visitors so, I guess less than 200 dito sa Long Beach” she added.
She estimated that around 600 visited San Vicente several days before and during Holy Week to enjoy the beaches and island getaways.
Accommodation facilities were completely booked in Port Barton, which recently had a week-long electricity outage after PowerSource Philippines, Inc. (PSPI) shut down its power plant due to foreign guests who had returned to the place after two years of dealing with COVID-19.
Power was returned to the destination following local government unit intervention, headed by mayor Amy Alvarez, with businesses, residents, and other concerned agencies.
“Lazuli is fully booked, and I also monitored that the foreign tourists are back in Port Barton. Everyone there is fully booked. ” Tonino Habana, president of the United Tourism Enterprises Association (UniTEA), said.
Local tour operators were trying to find boats to use in excursions due to the sudden surge of passengers, as many had been destroyed by Typhoon Odette.
“[The] problem now is we don’t have enough tour boats because most were damaged during the storm,”
Florily Caabay of St. Vincent Travel and Tours said.
“May mga ibang booking sana kaya lang wala nang available na boat,” she added.
Panagsagan explained this is because some tour boats are still processing their licenses with the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA), and some are still repairing.
She added that next week, there will be additional boats to serve tourists visiting their famous beaches.
“This is a good start for all of us. The future looks bright. Let’s sustain this and pray that there are no more pandemics and storms.” Habana added.