San Vicente: A glance at Palawan’s gem
The municipality of San Vicente in Palawan, located about 186 kilometers from the province’s capital of Puerto Princesa, has emerged in recent years as one of the newest prime tourist destinations in the Philippines’ last frontier.
It is home to what is touted as the town’s tourism jewel—the Long Beach, a 14-kilometer stretch of pristine white sand facing the West Philippine Sea, which was selected as a flagship Tourism Enterprise Zone of the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA). This entailed the crafting of a tourism masterplan that would transform the municipality into a major tourism spot.
The indigenous people of the Tagbanua tribe were the early inhabitants of the barrios that are now part of San Vicente.
Fishermen and loggers from Luzon and Visayas frequented these barrios, which were still part of the towns of Puerto Princesa and Taytay. Some of them permanently settled and started logging operations.
In the early 1950s, families from Manamoc, Cuyo and Agutaya in Palawan arrived in the place called Malagnang, now Poblacion. As their number increased, they formed a small community and later chose Saint Vincent Ferrer as their patron saint. San Vicente was also adopted as the new name of Malagnang.
In 1969, San Vicente was declared a separate municipality carved from two adjacent towns. The barrios of Binga, New Canipo, Alimanguan and New Agutaya in Taytay town and all barrios from Vicente to Caruray in Puerto Princesa, were separated and constituted into the independent municipality of San Vicente with the seat of government located in the present site of the barrio of San Vicente.
In May 2018, the town inaugurated a new airport facility with a 1.6-km runway and a terminal building sufficient to handle limited daytime operations. In October of the same year, Tieza also inaugurated its Tourism Enterprise Zone Office and the Tourist Information Center in San Vicente.
Apart from the airport, government funds have been allocated for other key infrastructure projects including access roads from the main highway, sewage and water facilities, ports and facilities at Long Beach.
These development activities have attracted investors including major property developers. As a recognized tourism enterprise zone, investors in San Vicente enjoy zero tariff for capital importation, an incentive that local planners said had already attracted locators.
San Vicente’s tourism masterplan includes proposals on the development of tourism establishments according to a set of design principles for a viable and sustainable approach.
One of the features of the plan is the imposition of a 50-meter setback at Long Beach, even when the national law on coastal easement requires only 25 meters of foreshore clearance for any structure being put up near the sea.
Before the pandemic, some 25,000 tourists, mostly from Europe, visited San Vicente annually. Besides Long Beach, visitors stay at the picturesque Port Barton which caters mainly to backpackers and adventure seekers.
Ensuring a sustainable tourism enterprise growth is the biggest challenge for the town of San Vicente so it would remain a paradise and avoid the same environmental problems faced by other tourism destinations around the country.
Sources: sanvicentepalawan.gov.ph, tieza.gov.ph, psa.gov.ph
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