PUERTO PRINCESA CITY — Amidst the alleged wilting tourism industry in this city brought by the current political crossfire it is experiencing, the City Tourism Department (CTD) here stands firmly and believes it is thriving and keeps on luring tourists on this year’s first quarter.
“Tourism here, in fact, is thriving, but [if] that’s how they (critics) look at it [then] we can’t change it,” said CTD Chief Cynthia Aileen Amurao to Philippine News Agency (PNA) over the weekend.
Nonetheless, she sees the trend of tourist influx going upward though at times erratic due to varying seasons.
Based on the Tourism Statistical Report, 740,272 tourists flocked into this city in 2014; relatively higher than 692,982 tourists which were registered in 2013.
In the first three months of 2014, the city saw an increase, with 198,971 tourists compared to 190,826 in 2013. These figures are expected to step up this first three months up to the end of first quarter, Amurao said.
But despite the perceived hype in tourist influx this first quarter, brought by the visits of cruise ships, creation of chartered flights, like from Taiwan to Puerto Princesa, and lakbay-aral (learning travel) programs and conventions, Amurao however, is saddened and admitted that the non-stop blows of “propaganda” somehow demolishes the industry’s good image.
“Actually, it destroys the image [of the city tourism industry], because we are looked up as [a model]; they (other cities and provinces) are looking at us as a prospective example, only to find out that politics here is chaotic,” she said.
How Amurao wishes for the critics to usher tourism growth and let every stakeholder thrive instead of dampening it.
“Hopefully, there’s no more chaos so that the tourism industry may further grow and everyone may profit,” she added.
On the other hand, the CTD is preparing for activities that are popular during the summer, such as the 70th Palawan Liberation Anniversary from Japanese occupation and Pangalipay sa Baybay (Fun at the Baywalk).
Accommodations and community-based tourism sites are all set to ensure the tourists would have a worthwhile stay in the City.
Amurao’s statement is due to the current political struggle in Puerto Princesa involving the recall petition filed against Mayor Lucilo Bayron by former councilor and information officer Alroben Goh.
Recently, the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) in this city proceeded to verify over 40,000 signatures that the petitioner had collected to recall Bayron.
The official result of the verification process remains pending at the COMELEC in Manila.