World-renowned Palaui Island reopens after 2 years

TUGUEGARAO CITY – The world-famous Palaui Island in Cagayan province is open again to tourists starting Tuesday after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic.

Palaui Island, Santa Ana, Cagayan (Photo courtesy of DENR-Region 2)

At the height of the health crisis in 2020, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) provided PHP1 million to fund the emergency employment of about 160 families in the island.

Officials of the DENR, Department of Tourism, Cagayan Economic Zone Authority, local government, and other members of the Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) led the ribbon-cutting ceremony to signal the reopening of the 8,048-hectare Palaui Island Protected Landscape and Seascape (PIPLS) in Barangay San Vicente, Santa Ana, according to a Facebook post.

The PAMB is the decision-making body of the PIPLS, a protected area legislated by virtue of Republic Act 11038, or the expanded protected areas system law.

DENR Region 2 Executive Director, Gwendolyn Bambalan, said the reopening of the PIPLS will boost the economy and will help the country recover from the effects of the public health emergency.

“Last year, our department initiated the improvement of facilities in PIPLS with a budget of PHP4.7 million,” she said. “With the influx of tourists, there should be an office dedicated to manage our environment and natural resources here.”

Two accredited boat operators’ associations, the San Vicente Motor Banca Association and Palaui San Vicente Motor Banca Association have been ferrying tourists.

The island covers 8,048 hectares with 1,008-hectare coral reefs, 472-hectare seagrasses and 102-hectare mangrove.

It became famous for hosting two seasons of the reality show “Survivor USA” and for being included in the top 10 most beautiful beaches of the world by CNN, an international broadcast network.

In 2019, the marine protected area (MPA) was awarded outstanding National Integrated Protected Area System-Marine Protected Area by the Para El Mar: MPA Awards and Recognition, a biennial event that showcases the country’s best performing MPAs.

As required by the PAMB, a vaccination card must be presented upon registration while only trained and accredited guides will be allowed.

The PIPLS is within the jurisdiction of the community environment and natural resources office of Aparri, led by forester Joselito Razon. (PR/With a report from Villamor Visaya Jr.)

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