The coronavirus outbreak has affected different sectors including tourism.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed so many things in one fell swoop. For one, the enhanced community quarantine announced in March has forced many shops to close and most of the population to stay at home. Tourist spots in the Philippines were also immediately closed temporarily following the ECQ announcement.
And when it comes to tourism, Palawan is one of the most affected areas. Since the province is known for having some of the most wonderful tourist spots in the Philippines, the COVID-19 pandemic and the temporary shutdown of tourism operations affected many things, from the livelihood of locals to the new normal that everyone has to adapt to after the quarantine.
The Quarantine’s Effect on Palawan Tourism and Economy
Due to the guidelines of the general community quarantine, travel agencies, tour operators, and reservation services are prohibited from operating. The Association of Travel Agencies and Operators (ATOP) president said that the temporary shutdown of tourist spots and travel agencies will have a huge toll on the income of Palaweños, since most depend on tourism for their livelihood.
While residents are waiting for financial aid from the government, they have resorted to other means of income such as selling fish. The local government of Palawan also expects that it will take a long time for Palawan to recover from the temporary shutdown of tourist spots.
In order to help businesses, the Department of Tourism (DOT) has launched an online training program for the country’s tourism stockholders. The training program will include online courses that will teach members of the tourism sector how to cope with the changes in the industry due to the global pandemic.
The Adjustments Made during the Quarantine Period
Mayor Lucilo Bayron immediately closed the famous Puerto Princesa Underground River until the end of the quarantine period. The Puerto Princesa Underground River (PPUR) tour has also been suspended as early as March 15. However, other destinations under community-based sustainable tourism remained operational initially. During the closure of the PPUR tour, the park management devoted its efforts into maintenance of its facilities and an information education campaign on the single-use plastic ordinance.
Meanwhile, El Nido was also closed to tourists. Tourism stakeholders have also been bracing for a slump in the tourism industry once the quarantine is lifted in the province. In an effort to invite tourists into the province, they have been planning to implement a domestic marketing approach and offer diving learning packages to local residents and domestic tourists.
Not all tourist establishments have been focused on their operations though. Some have devoted their facilities to help against the pandemic. For instance, the El Nido Local Government has made use of tourism facilities in order to help frontliners in the area. The CED Villas and CED Garden Residence have provided their resorts and rooms to accommodate frontliners in Barangay Corong-Corong.
Ultimately, business owners and workers are still uncertain of whether tourists will visit Palawan after the ECQ. They stated that they have no choice but to wait until travelling is safe again for tourists. Since the province relies greatly on tourism, Palawan is bracing for changes in the industry during and after the pandemic.
Go to Yoorekka for more useful local information during this pandemic.
About Denisse Shawntel Tan
Denisse Tan is currently a work in progress: she’s an aspiring writer, artist, and fashion designer! She’s trying to figure out how to manage her time in achieving all of her goals while also taking in life as humanly possible. Aside from art, she’s a big fan of the color pink, disco music, Bratz dolls, and Genshin Impact. By age 35, she plans to travel to New York City 🗽.
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