The tours, accommodation, food and four Community Based Sustainable Tourism (CBST) Areas in Sitio Sabang that houses the famous Puerto Princesa Underground River, is set to open for local tourists this coming Sept 18 and 19.
City Councilor Matthew Mendoza announced the said plan during a live interview via Story Café last Aug 27 here in Palawan Daily. This is after a series of meetings with tourism stakeholders in the area of the City, but the Underground river will stay close to the public depending on the decision of the Protected Area Management Board.
“Kailangan po natin mag re-open ng pwede nang i-open, kailangan po natin mag generate ng income, ng employment kasi yung resources natin kailangan natin dagdagan, lalo na yung mga workers natin na kailangan magtrabaho, magtrabaho na uli, kailangan lang natin i-announce na pwede nang maglabas basta lang mag observe tayo ng safety protocols natin,” Mendoza said.
PPUR Park Superintendent Elizabeth Maclang confirms the re-opening as initiative by the private sector in cooperation with City Tourism Office and the management of the park, she said that an orientation regarding safety protocols is set on Sept 3, while a multi-agency task force inspection is scheduled on Sept 10 and 11 to identify which establishment are ready for the said re-opening.
“So maganda ‘tong plan ng private sectors na umpisahan muna itong beach and accommodation, siguro i-present ko uli sa PAMB na ito nag open na ang Sabang, pwedeng weekend open ang PPUR. Paunti-unti po ba pero wala pang target date,” Maclang said.
Mendoza said that among the agreed decision during the meeting in Sabang is the revenue sharing among local business owners, the hotels will only provide accommodation while the meals and food service will be refer to the restaurant owners. A lifeguard will be stationed in Sabang beach to watch for those who will choose to swim.
“Plano kasi ng mga tourism stakeholders do’n na mag open sila to cater for local tourists, local po ‘yan mga taga Puerto Princesa kasama mga tabi natin munisipyo Roxas, Aborlan, Narra, yung dito sa mainland Palawan ok naman tayo,” Mendoza added.
The four CBST site that will be opened to the public are the Hundred caves, Ugong Rock in Brgy. Tagabinet, Mangrove Paddle Boat Tour and the Sabang falls. Rates are discounted as per PPUR published rates, but the private tour operators along with City Tourism Office are now finalizing the commercial package rates since it will have less people who will travel in a van going to Sabang.
“Yung package ginagawa na ng mga tour operators, dahil magbabawas ng tao sa van, nag re-repackaging ang mga tour operators kasama ng tourism office, kasi may mga destination na isasama, kumbaga ire-reformat yung dating Tour B and Tour C,” Maclang share.
The PAMB will meet by end of September and by that time they will assess if there is a need to open the Underground River to locals, but as of now they are doing some repair and improvement on some facilities in order to be ready in case it will be opened to the public.
“Dahil nag lockdown, nag concentrate kami sa pag repair ng facilities ng PPUR mismo, halimbawa yung registration booth, mga waiting area ng mga tour guide at ibang bisita, yung board walk tinanggal namin yung mismong kahoy kasi talagang dilapidated na, and then yung nurse station at may ilan din kaming inayos na bubong dun sa wharf,” Maclang said in closing.