Palawan, Philippines

The Royal Treatment at Puerto Princesa: Paradise Regained

With safety protocols firmly enforced, Puerto Princesa is poised to again welcome tourists with open arms. In recent years, the highly urbanized city and tourist haven has been paralyzed by the Covid-19 pandemic, then pummeled by Typhoon Odette. But it is now on the road to recovery—as spectacularly as its scenic, romantic and gastronomic attractions

“The tourism industry is the lifeblood of Puerto Princesa, along with agriculture. Almost 15,000 people directly or indirectly benefit from tourism. In varying degrees, most of the recent construction and development projects are related to tourism: hotel-building, parks, cruise-ship ports, street lights, roads and many more. Unfortunately, some of these have been on hold since the onset of the pandemic,” discloses Demetrio “Toto” Alvior Jr., the city tourism officer.

The Royal Connection

Puerto Princesa, the capital of postcard-perfect Palawan, sprawls across 253,982 hectares of captivating coastlines stretched over 106 kilometers. Due to its strategic geographical location, it has sufficient depth to allow ships of all sizes to anchor, earning a reputation as a “Princess of Ports,” or in Spanish, “Puerto Princesa.”

There’s no contention that Puerto Princesa is one of the country’s greatest pleasures. A holiday destination universally beloved by travelers, beach-combers and trekkers; a bustling business center with a rural allure; a provincial vibe with modern amenities; and a clean and green city recognized for its lush forests, fresh air and frontier character.


Rising Above Covid-19

The city of Puerto Princesa has been struggling to get to its feet since the outbreak of Covid-19 in early 2020. The lack of tourists, which is the main industry, has forced hundreds of tourism-related businesses to close, leaving thousands of tourism workers unemployed.

“The public-health crisis forced them to find alternative sources of income, which was made more difficult because of the restrictions of movement due to several lockdowns,” Mr. Alvior reveals. “One factor of low tourist arrivals is the fluctuating number of Covid cases, which in turn affects the determination of quarantine requirements and national government intervention policies.”

Today, Puerto Princesa is experiencing record lows in terms of economic losses, losing around P5 billion a year for the past two years from potential tourist receipts.

“The City Tourism Department has been strengthening its social media campaigns to encourage local tourists to visit local attractions, in a bid to boost much-needed revenues to the ailing tourism sector,” a cautiously optimistic Mr. Alvior says. “We have one important wish in the City Tourism Department, and that is to prioritize the aids for the Typhoon Odette-affected tourism industry here.”

The goal is to regain the city’s glory as an eco-tourism capital. “Our 2022 goals are full restoration of all the tourist attractions affected by Typhoon Odette such as the completion of the construction of the cruise-ship port and other man-made tourist attractions. There will be wide, extensive and aggressive promotions of Puerto Princesa to the local and international market.”

The Last Frontier

Puerto Princesa has a plethora of tourist spots. But many tourists who visit the city put the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, one of the New7Wonders of Nature, on top of their list. As the jump-off point for exploring the world-famous Tubbataha Reef, the city also hosts a fair share of adventurers.

“Since the Covid-19 outbreak, we have never ceased to hope that the future will be better. This year 2022 is no different. And while what we want is a full recovery, we cannot afford to be careless when taking big steps. As we begin to truly understand the gravity of the situation, we also come to realize that our moves must be consistent with the bigger picture such as the national situation,” Mr. Alvior says.

Since February 10, the city has been happily welcoming more visitors once again, hoping that the arrival numbers will soon be back to pre-pandemic levels. In this initiative, the tourism department shares the privilege on with the private sector.

“While the government is the administrator of the State, the private sector is the bloodline. The government and the private sector are two inseparable factors for Puerto Princesa to prosper, and more importantly, to recover,” Mr. Alvior says. “The key to recovery is to enable and support the private sector to keep or resume their business operations. When it comes to the city’s biggest partners, apart from government agencies, it is the collective impact of small-business operations.”

Puerto Princesa may be “The Last Frontier,” but the City Tourism Department is confident that it will always be the first choice of every traveler.

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Palawan, Philippines

Banwa Private Island’s preferred aviation partner, Ascent features more private air options

PRIVATE FLIGHTS TO BANWA PRIVATE ISLAND

Take off and breeze through the skies in a private jet, helicopter or single-engine aircraft by Ascent Flights Global (“Ascent”) to the exclusive and all-villa Banwa Private Island.


Banwa Private Island’s preferred aviation partner, Ascent features more private air options for a truly luxurious and seamless experience, whether flying directly to the island or through any of Palawan domestic airports. Every charter flight is tailored to the guest’s needs, meticulously organized from enquiry until well after arrival.


The most favored and convenient charter flight from Manila to Banwa Private Island is through an 8-seater Cessna Grand Caravan EX seaplane, landing directly on the doorstep of the exclusive sanctuary.


Complementing the seaplane and multiple helicopter options, newly available Ascent aircraft include the Cessna Turbo 206H suitable for small groups of up to 5 passengers and perfect for adventure travels with its versatility and cargo space. While the Cessna 172SP Skyhawk for 3 passengers is considered as the most successful aircraft for its reliability and comfort.


For groups of up to 8 passengers, the Swiss crafted Pilatus PC-12NG offers the ultra-modern cabin experience, equipped with all you need to relax, work or share in-flight moments. For guests wishing to share a private island experience with larger parties of up to 14, the Gulfstream jet is the aircraft of choice.


Roundtrip private flight rates start from US$5,700 from Manila to San Vicente, closest airport to the island, with onward journey in a premium sports utility vehicle followed by a short and scenic speedboat transfer to the island.

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