Dev’t project to help Coron’s sustainable tourism bounce back

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat (Photo by DOT Philippines)

CORON, Palawan – The Department of Tourism (DOT) expresses support for Coron’s sustainable tourism development to draw more visitors and hasten tourism recovery.

“Giving our recovery plans for Coron a major boost is the Sustainable Tourism Development Project or STDP, which will be launched this year and will run throughout 2026,” Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat remarked during the dialogue with stakeholders on March 4, banking on the able leadership of Mayor Mario Reyes Jr., local industry captains and community beacons to provide the impetus for this high-impact project.

The STDP is an initiative under the Transforming Communities Towards Resilient, Inclusive, and Sustainable Tourism (TouRIST) program of the DOT.

The STDP, a collaboration among the DOT, the provincial government of Palawan, the municipalities of Coron and El Nido, and the Asian Development Bank (ADB), is aimed at making Coron and El Nido’s tourism development sustainable and inclusive. A five-year project to commence by the third quarter of this year, the major components include urban infrastructure, ecosystems improvement, and enterprise development.

For Coron, urban infrastructure projects will include water supply, sewerage system, drainage improvements, and urban beautification.

The ecosystem component will focus on the restoration of four key ecotourism sites, capacity building for marine protected area (MPA) management, and alternative livelihoods. These include Kayangan Lake, Siete Pecados, Bintuan Coral Gardens, and the CYC beach.

“The STDP will help build the capacity of local stakeholders to protect and conserve Coron’s natural beauty and biodiversity and ensure that tourism benefits the local communities,” Puyat said.

Meanwhile, the DOT has vowed to continue providing technical assistance in the areas of product development, marketing and promotions, and capacity building for both the local government and tourism workers.

The DOT has conducted rigid inspections and regularly monitors its accredited accommodation establishments (AEs) to ensure that minimum health and safety protocols are enforced. As of February 15, 2021, a total of 20 AEs have been accredited.

As part of the Bayanihan 2 program, the DOT has partnered with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to extend Cash Assistance to affected tourism workers.

For Coron, a total of 34 enterprises with 740 workers received their benefits amounting to PHP3.7 million as of March 2. For more affected workers to benefit from the program, the tourism chief has urged the local government and tourism enterprises to help facilitate the issuance of documentary requirements.

“We hope that this financial aid from the government will help get our tour guides, tour operators, and other displaced tourism workers back on their feet,” the tourism chief said.

Likewise, with the decision to still require RTPCR tests before travel, the DOT’s partnership with the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital (UP-PGH) and the Philippine Children’s Medical Center (PCMC) will continue to boost local travel with the 50 percent subsidy program.

Coron prides itself on being almost Covid-19 free, which is a positive pull factor for visitors to enjoy the many beautiful bleach-white sand beaches, large limestone cliffs, endemic terrestrial wildlife, and rich marine ecosystem. It is home to Kayangan Lake, touted as the cleanest lake in the country.

Often cited in many lists of top dive spots in the world, its main draw is the World War II Japanese wrecks as well as the other fun dive spots.

Coron is a top destination for both international and local travelers. In 2019, Palawan welcomed 1,987,605 visitors, 15 percent or a total of 292,549 of which visited Coron.

Coron has attracted some 2,900 visitors since it reopened on Dec. 1, 2020. (PR)

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Credit belongs to : www.pna.gov.ph

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