Philippine Airlines (PAL) and the city government of Puerto Princesa, on the island of Palawan, are teaming up to maximise the new-found tourism potential of the Puerto Princesa Underground River after it was recently declared one of the New7Wonders of Nature.
In a recent news forum, PAL’s President & Chief Operating Officer, Jaime Bautista said the national carrier would now deploy a wide-body jet, such as the Airbus A330, to Puerto Princesa, to better accommodate the expected influx of tourists to the city. At present, PAL flies twice daily between the Palawan hub and Manila using a narrow-body A320.
“In support of [Puerto Princesa] Mayor [Edward] Hagedorn’s programme to attract more tourists, we will fly our bigger planes to Puerto Princesa,” Bautista said. He added that Palawan’s underground river was included in the top six destinations featured in PAL’s 2012 corporate calendar. “This is how important PAL regards this wonderful destination,” he said.
The recent renovation and expansion of the Puerto Princesa airport was timely, as it means that the Palawan hub can now accommodate the bigger aircraft being used by PAL.
Last year, around 425,000 tourists visited the underground river. The local government is expecting some 550,000 visitors this year. Despite the increased aircraft capacity being added however, it has been suggested that Puerto Princesa’s hotel room supply is insufficient to cater to the expected surge in tourist arrivals.
The underground river, along with the Amazon rainforest, Vietnam’s Halong Bay, Argentina’s Iguazu Falls, South Korea’s Jeju Island, Indonesia’s Komodo, and South Africa’s Table Mountain, was included in the list of New7Wonders of Nature following a global poll that started in 2007.