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Hagedorn says tourism in Palawan now a P4-B industry

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Mayor Edward Hagedorn of Puerto Princesa City announced on Friday that tourism in Palawan has become a P4-billion industry with the recent proclamation of the Puerto Princesa Underground River (PPUR) as one of the world’s New 7 Wonders of Nature.
At the Communication and News Exchange (CNEX) Forum at the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) Bldg. in Quezon City on Friday morning, Hagedorn said the city recorded 515,000 arrivals last year as a result of the August 2011 launching of the PPUR text voting campaign for the world’s newest natural wonders.

Last January, the PPUR was adjudged as one of the seven winners in the search.
Hagedorn thanked and attributed their successful campaign to all Filipinos and friends who sent some 24 million text votes which, he said, could be the unconfirmed biggest vote received in the search.

Hagedorn said the number of arrivals last year was a big jump from the 12,000 tourists in 1992 and the 160,000 recorded in 2007. He said income from the entrance permits to the underground river alone was recorded at P35 million in 2011.
”Based on our records early this year, there is an indication we will reach 700,000 to 800,000 tourists this year,” the mayor added.
Hagedorn said they are now working double time to support this new development with the needed infrastructure as bookings and daily flights have significantly increased.

”It is a welcome problem that we have to address as soon as possible,” he stressed.
Hagedorn said he is glad with the government support to improve the Puerto Princesa Airport which is currently servicing 18 daily flights despite its terminal designed to accommodate only four to five flights a day.

Hagedorn thanked the support of President Benigno S. Aquino III, through the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), which is fast-tracking the upgrading of the Puerto Princesa Airport into an international airport to accommodate up to two million passengers annually.
DOTC Secretary Manuel A. Roxas II earlier announced the P4.46-billion airport project has been approved by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board and will be funded under the Economic Development Cooperation Fund financing by the Korean government.
Hagedorn is hoping the project’s groundbreaking could commence before the end of the year.

Hagedorn said other big ticket infrastructure projects are underway such as hospitals and hotels, with mall giant SM developing a 27-kilometer “ultimate beach destination” that could rival the famous Phuket in Thailand and Bali in Indonesia.

The biggest problem now, Hagedorn said, is the 1,500 daily visitors who want to enter the PPUR. He suggested early booking of at least a month as they are limiting entrance to the underground river to only 700 visitors a day until such time the UNESCO determine its carrying capacity as one of the World Heritage Sites.

Hagedorn also announced they are continuously training tour guides to sustain tourism activities in the city that include firefly tours, spelunking, diving and snorkeling, zip lines, dolphin and whale watching, and other ecotourism activities.
The city also has a crocodile farm featuring the giant 16-foot Valentino and 11-foot Valentina which were caught in the southern town of Bataraza last Valentine’s Day.

As one of the cleanest cities in the country, Hagedorn said there is also a transport commitment from the Asian Development bank (ADB) for the deployment of 4,000 electric tricycles in the city.

Hagedorn said they are fully opposed to mining and slash-and-burn (kaingin) farming, and conducting regular dialogues with stakeholders, including the protected indigenous peoples in order to sustain Palawan’s pristine marine and terrestrial environment as the province also supplies 50 percent of the seafood requirement of Metro Manila and other areas in Luzon.

Hagedorn said PPUR will be officially recognized as one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature in fitting ceremonies on April 21 at the One Esplanade at the Mall of Asia (MOA) in Pasay City, also the venue of the text vote launching last year.

Expected to attend the April 21 awarding ceremonies, with a one-hour show featuring the country’s famous artists, are representatives of the six other search winners -- Halong Bay (Vietnam); Iguazu Falls (Argentina, Brazil); Jeju Island (South Korea); Komodo National Park (Indonesia); Table Mountain (South Africa); and the Amazon Rainforest (Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela).

by: PNA




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