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Puerto Princesa pushes two eco-tourism projects PDF Print E-mail

Mayor Edward HagedornMANILA, June 3 (PNA) -- The local government of Puerto Princesa City has sought for the approval of its application with the Philippine Economic Zone Authority for the registration of its two eco-tourism projects with an estimated development cost of $ 150 million to further maximize the city’s tourism potential.

Puerto Princesa city mayor Edward S. Hagedorn told reporters at the sidelines of recently concluded 17th Southern Luzon Area Business Conference that discussions are ongoing between the PEZA and the city government for its eco-tourism projects.

The city’s two projects are the Palawan Tourism Estate with an estimated development cost of $ 50 million and the Palawan Environmental Estate with a development cost of $ 100 million.

Hagedorn said the Environmental Estate project would be located in a 1,000 hectare property in Sta. Lucia infront of the Iwahig Penal Colony.

Under the plan, the property would be converted into a site for environmental research, laboratories and environment reserve center.

Envisioned to be established in the estate is an international school for environment. The estate would also be complemented with environment friendly resorts and hotels.

“Everything that should be included in the Tourism Estate should be compatible and in harmony with nature,” Hagedorn said.

Already, the city government has signed a contract with the group of Willie Samson to package the project, which development is expected to start before end of the year.

To ensure the project will push through, the city government has required Samson’s group to put up the P1 million non-refundable goodwill money.

Hagedorn noted that the project was supposed to start in 1997 under a Korean investor but did not push because the Asian financial crisis had prevented Korean investors from bringing money of more than $ 10,000 out of the country.

One concrete project that is going to be put up in the Environmental Estate is the manufacture of electric tricycles by Korean businessman Robert Yang of Inter Automotive Design of Korea.

The Korean group is arriving this month with its prototype tricycle, Hagedorn said.

The electric-powered tricycle is estimated to cost $ 3,000 per unit, approximately P130,000 each, including the $ 500 cost of an imported battery from Korea.

The city government may subsidize the cost of $ 3,000 brand new tricycle although drivers are expected to save cost because they would only spend P50 per day for the charging of the poly --battery as against the current P400 daily fuel cost.

The life of --battery is good for 20 long years. A fully charged battery can run for 100 kilometers, which is more than enough to cover for a tricycle’s average daily run of 70 kilometers.

The plan is to manufacture 4,000 units of the environment friendly electric-powered tricycles and replace all the existing tricycles on the road although some had already been converted using LPG.

“We are going to buy back the existing tricycles on the road,” Hagedorn said.

He said the ultimate plan is to supply all the country’s needs for environment-friendly tricycles.

For the Tourism Estate project, Hagedorn said this would be located in barangay Cabayugan, which is near the site of the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, an underground river in Mt. St. Paul.

The Wyland Group of Hawaii has also expressed interest to locate in the Tourism Estate.

The Puerto Princesa underground river is reputed to be the longest known navigable underground river in the world.

Among its most significant features is the 8.2 kilometers underground river that flows beneath spectacular rock formations before emptying out into the sea.

It takes more than two hours travel from the city, half of it is very rough road, to reach the areas of Cabayugan down to Sabang, the staging point for the underground river, where few tourist accommodations are starting to sprout.

There are also other tourist sites before reaching the place including the Honda Bay, which is famous for its island hopping activities, and the Vietnamese Village.

Hagedorn said there is not enough hotel rooms in Puerto Princesa because there is no more lean months for tourist arrival especially since local tourists have substantially increased.

But this would be augmented soon with the reopening of the Asia World Hotel, which has been transformed into a five-star hotel with 200 rooms from the previous 100-room accommodation facility.

Opening of the 100-room Sheridan Hotel, another five-star hotel, is also slated for opening.

At present, the city has a population of only 250,000 while the whole of Palawan has one million. (PNA)

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