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Palawan targets 2 M tourists in 2017

MANILA, Philippines – Palawan tourism stakeholders are confident tourist arrivals will increase by as much as two million next year with the expected opening of the Puerto Princesa International Airport and other gateways in the province.

In an interview with The STAR, Debbie Tan, president of the Palawan Tourism Council, said industry players in the province are anticipating the opening of the international airport in Puerto Princesa City in the first quarter of next year.

“We’re optimistic that tourist arrivals will increase with the opening of the Puerto Princesa International Airport. We are targeting two million arrivals in 2017,”  Tan said in a phone interview.

But aside from the gateway, Tan said the growth would also come from the opening of the San Vicente Airport, which is targeted in the second quarter of next year, as well as the improvement of the Busuanga Airport in Coron, Palawan.

To gear up for the expected surge in tourists, Tan said the private sector in Palawan has started to invest more in hotels and accommodation facilities.

“A lot of properties have been opening up in preparation for the entry of tourists,” Tan said.

However, Tan said most of the new hotels were small with only 100 rooms.

 She admitted the province still lacked investors who are willing to infuse big investments to open hotels with 300 to 500 rooms.

The Palawan Tourism Council, for its part, is also developing new destinations, activities and tour packages within the province.

In 2015, about one million tourists visited the province of Palawan. For Puerto Princesa, alone, around 820,000 tourists stayed overnight.

In an earlier interview, Puerto Princesa Mayor Lucilo Bayron said he expected tourist arrivals in the city to jump to 1.5 million in 2017 due to the opening of its international airport.

He said the airport, once operational, would be positioned as one of the gateways of the Philippines to Asia.

“Next year, when the airport opens, and we solve the traffic problem, I think it would not be hard to attain 1.5 million visitors next year,” the official said.

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