MANILA – Puerto Princesa City has started to accept domestic tourists on March 1, a piece of welcome news for both tourism workers and travelers itching to take a vacation after a year in quarantine.

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said the Department of Tourism (DOT) supports the decision of Puerto Princesa City's executives to reopen attractions to more domestic tourists with minimum health and safety standards in place. It initially opened its destinations last December 8 but only for Palawan locals.

“We are keen to discover and develop other tourism products to encourage visitors to stay longer or to entice repeat visits. We have great confidence in the city’s future as there is vast potential to further develop its nature-based, farm, and sun and beach tourism products,” she said.

The coastal city requires visitors to take the RT-PCR test before travel with 48 hours validity, the negative result of which should be emailed directly by the Department of Health (DOH)-accredited testing facility to the City’s Incident Management Team (IMT).

Also required is a confirmed booking from a DOT-accredited accommodation establishment and travel agency for guided tours. The use of the system as a contact tracing application is likewise mandatory.

Puyat, meanwhile, assured that tourism front-liners would be included in the vaccination priority, particularly the quarantine hotel workers.

The DOT said it will provide technical assistance on product development, marketing, and promotions, and conduct skills training programs.

As of February 15, DOT Region 4-B has accredited 73 tourism establishments and service providers in Puerto Princesa City, the majority of which are tour guides.

Known for its UNESCO World Heritage site Underground River, Puerto Princesa City shares 50 percent of the tourist arrivals in Palawan and the region, making it the biggest contributor to its economic growth.

In 2020, Palawan logged a partial number of 157,051 tourist arrivals, 71,889 of which were visits to the city. (PNA)