Palawan underground river to increase arrivals by 40%

More tourist to Palawan


With the Puerto Princesa Underground River named as one of the world’s new 7 Wonders of Nature, the capital city of Palawan expects tourist arrivals to increase by a conservative estimate of 25 percent to around 40 percent in the medium term.

In a presentation during the recently concluded Philippine Economic Briefing in the province, Puerto Princesa Tourism Officer Rebecca Labit said the province expects tourist arrivals this year to increase to 521,991; they are expected to spend around P9.7 billion.

“We have not yet completed our data from October up to this moment but when we got our data from the time we were announced as the winner in the new 7 Wonders of Nature, I would safely say that the occupancy rate of all tourist accommodations in Puerto Princesa is almost 60 percent,” Labit said.

Tourist arrivals are expected to increase further by 25 percent in 2012 and 2013 to around 625,489 and 815,611, respectively. The province expects to breach the 1-million mark by 2014 when it will see a 30-percent growth in tourist arrivals to around 1.060 million.

By 2015, the province hopes to see a 35-percent increase in tourist arrivals to around 1.431 million, before breaching the 2-million mark by 2016. By the end of President Aquino’s term, the province believes it will have a 40-percent increase in tourist arrivals to 2.004 million.

The optimism behind the numbers stem from official data from the Department of Tourism (DOT), which showed that Puerto Princesa City was the seventh top-tourist destination in the Philippines in 2010 when 405,430 tourists visited the province.

“In 2009, Puerto Princesa was in the No. 10 position in terms of the tourism arrivals for the entire country and maybe it will be safe to say now that we envision to be in the top circle of 5 in the next two to three years. It is not impossible. In 2010, we registered more than 50-percent increase in tourist arrivals,” Labit said.

With the increase in tourist arrivals and the projected growth in the coming years, Labit said there are 23 new hotels being constructed in Puerto Princesa. Four have already been opened and another two will be open this week.

Puerto Princesa’s tourists are composed of young people who are either traveling with their families, friends or co-workers. They are always in groups and never travel alone. The bulk of the city’s tourists is within the age of 25 to 34 as well as those within 35 to 44 years old. Around 68 percent of these tourists travel for pleasure or vacation and some 15 percent go to the city for business, professional work or investment.

Labit also said the length of stay of the tourists is getting longer. Most tourists stay for two to three days but there are those who stay longer. It can be noted that the number of tourists who stay for five days up to 60 days are the same.

Most of the local tourists come from Metro Manila, as well as other parts of Palawan, Laguna, and Cavite. In terms of foreign tourists, the bulk comes from the United States, Canada, Taiwan, New Zealand, Germany, and Japan.

Airport expansion

Meanwhile, the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) aims to have the project to upgrade and expand the Puerto Princesa airport approved by the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) board by January so the project can begin construction by end-2012 or early 2013.

In an interview, DOTC Director for Infrastructure Projects Jaime Raphael C. Feliciano told reporters the upgrading and expansion of the airport have already been submitted for approval by the Investment Coordination Committee Cabinet Committee and may already be scheduled for evaluation by the Neda board.

The board, which is chaired by the President, is the country’s premier social and economic development planning and policy coordinating body.

“Right now, you can see that it’s a very nice airport but it does not have enough facilities to process all the passengers. The terminal was built for 500,000 passengers per year. But as of November 2011, we processed about 800,000 passengers and the year has not ended yet. So you can imagine the overcrowding that’s happening,” Feliciano said. “The amount of cargo that it has processed in 2010 was about 7.7 tons so we have to have more facilities for the cargo also.”

The construction of a new passenger terminal building, a cargo terminal building, the rehabilitation and expansion of the runway, and the installation of a new navigational system will cost P4.485 billion. Feliciano said the system, called Instrument Landing System, will enable the pilots to land and take off even when it is raining or the visibility is limited.

Feliciano said the right-of-way acquisition for the expansion of the airport is already 96- percent complete. The remaining 4 percent of the area needed for the project involves two lots, which will be used as the location for the new terminal.

source: Cai U. Ordinario | Reporter

Earlier, the Korean Export-Import Bank agreed to extend some $71.61 million for the Puerto Princesa airport development project through an agreement with the national government signed last week.



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