Puerto Galera reports tourism revival after oil spill

PUERTO GALERA, a Mindoro harbor serving as a jumping-off point for diving excursions, saw a marked increase in visitor arrivals during Easter, showing signs of tourism recovery after the area’s resorts lost business following an oil spill in February 2023, according to an official working for the Puerto Galera visitor’s office.

Tourist arrivals — both domestic and foreign — were tallied at 17,000 from March 24 and could rise to 20,000 once all figures are consolidated, Noe Lineses said in a Facebook Messenger chat on the morning of Easter Sunday.

A year earlier, the tally was 8,000, he said.

“We had several positive news articles related (to the campaign) to recognize Puerto Galera as the diving capital of the Philippines.”

“We also now have one of the cleanest water quality readings in Oriental Mindoro,” he added.

Mr. Lineses said the local government has been promoting new attractions, such as a heritage park and a boardwalk along the village of Sabang, the home base for many diving operations.

Puerto Galera is situated within the Verde Island Passage, a hotspot for marine shore fish biodiversity. It hosts over 60 dive shops bringing visitors to 32 dive sites.

Oriental Mindoro was hit hard by an oil spill from a tanker that sank off the town of Naujan on Feb. 28, 2023, triggering months-long fishing bans in various municipalities. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza