The reopening to local tourists of the Calauit Safari Park in Busuanga town in northern Palawan is being eyed in March by the provincial government after quarantine restrictions have eased to give way to the recovery of the tourism industry.
A press statement released late Monday afternoon by the Palawan government through the Provincial Information Office (PIO) said as part of the preparation, representatives from the Provincial Task Force Against Covid-19 (PTFAC), Provincial Tourism Office (PTO), and Provincial Economic Enterprise and Development Office (PEEDO) went to Busuanga on Feb. 20 to inspect and evaluate the readiness of the wildlife sanctuary in Busuanga town.
Palawan Emergency Operations Center (EOC) manager and Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) chief Jeremias Alili said their visit is to particularly ensure that the management of the safari park will be able to implement the required minimum health standards to contain the spread of the deadly disease.
Alili said the tourism destination is ready to reopen to local tourists, however, they have additional recommendations to the management to come up with a system that can be followed to make sure that health protocols will be followed.
“Ini-expect natin na ‘pag nag-open tayo dadagsa lalo na ‘yong locals, taga Coron, medyo sabik din silang mamasyal. So, dapat may sistema pa rin na ma-maintain ang social distancing at saka ‘yong pag-obserba ng minimum health standards, so dapat kailangang maayos (We are expecting that if we reopen, local tourists, from Coron, will flock because they are excited to travel. So, there should be a system that will be managed to implement social distancing and the observation of the minimum health standards for everything to operate smoothly),” said Alili in the statement.
Alili added the management of the wildlife park and the municipal government should ensure that local tourists allowed to visit will be limited, especially when boarding its lone tour vehicle.
He said there is a structure in Calauit that can be turned into an isolation room in case a tourist is determined to have Covid-19 symptoms.
The PDRRMO chief also said they will conduct basic life support (BSL) training for park rangers for them to be able to respond in case a guest encounters an emergency.
PTO chief Maribel Buñi said they will also provide training on the management of minimum health standards for tour guides, who will be at the forefront of the fight to keep visitors of the safari park in Busuanga safe from the coronavirus disease.
She said the training is important for Calauit to welcome visitors again since there is still a pandemic.
PEEDO officer and Calauit director Dr. Myrna Lacanilao also vouched that the tourist destination can begin the preparation to reopen after the PDRRMO and the PTO suggested training activities for tour guides have been completed.
Lacanilao said only local tourists will be allowed to visit the safari park as the authority to allow foreign tourists to visit remains a responsibility of the national government’s IATF.
The Calauit Safari Park was established in 1976 as a game reserve under the late president Ferdinand Marcos for translocated African mammals such as giraffes, zebras, impalas, Calamian deers, and also wildlife species that are endemic to Palawan.
The park is located on Calauit Island in Busuanga, a 3,700-hectare area that lies off the coast of Palawan. (PNA)