MANILA — A week after the Puerto Princesa Underground River (PPUR) was named as one of the world’s new seven wonders of nature, the city of Puerto Princesa registered an increase in tourist arrivals.

Puerto Princesa City Mayor Edward Hagedorn said the Underground River drew about 160,000 tourists annually, but it ballooned to 425,000 last year.

This year, he said they are expecting some 550,000 visitors.

“We are up to the challenge. We view the Underground River’s recognition as a perfect opportunity to again showcase our commitment to preserve our legacy to the whole world,” Hagedorn said.

The 8.2-kilometer Underground River that winds through a cave of stalactites and stalagmites and embellished with natural rock and limestone formations, made it to the new list of the world's new wonders of nature along with the Amazon River, Halong Bay, Iguazu Falls, Jeju Island, Komodo and the Table Mountain.

Hagedorn thanked Philippine Airlines (PAL) president and chief operating officer Jaime Bautista for heeding his call for support in the wake of influx of tourists to the Underground River.

Bautista, meanwhile, promised to fly PAL’s bigger planes to Puerto Princesa in support of the city government’s program to attract more tourists.

Apart from promotional fares, he said PAL would deploy its Airbus A330 to accommodate more tourists to the city.

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