Make sure to consider the following factors when choosing the best tour operator in Palawan for your tropical vacation.
When booking an El Nido island-hopping tour, cheap tour price does not necessarily equate to ethical, sustainable, and quality service. The old adage “less is more” applies to all aspects of life. The reality is that most of the tour companies cramped their travelers into a big boat turning nature into a profit machine. Sadly, some businesses will also nickel-and-dime you. The cheap tour won’t be so cheap if you have to pay for a lot of other extras.
Meanwhile, there’s a comprehensive tour operator in Palawan that is really good at maximizing value for your every penny. Almost everything is included in the price. You want a company that is transparent with why prices are the way they are. Make sure to choose the right tour package for your Palawan trip that covers everything.
100% Local Company
There are a lot of tour companies or scuba diving agencies that are owned by foreigners. The businesses might be under the name of locals but are still 100% owned by foreigners. It’s just hard to know if the money is staying within the local economy or if the locals are getting proper salaries and are not being exploited.
On a brighter note, there are also a lot of family-owned small businesses in El Nido that need your support. They didn’t import foreign currencies into the country yet they are trying their best to keep up with the big foreign companies. Make sure to book with a socially conscious Palawan tour operator that supports the local people’s livelihood.
Licensed and Safe
If you choose to arrive in El Nido and just book everything yourself, you might end up booking with a tour operator that has no business permit or on a boat without a license to operate. For safety, make sure that the tour operator follows all the proper safety requirements and is accredited by the local government. Most of the travelers don’t even take into consideration these things and end up complaining when everything goes wrong during or after their tour.
It is recommended to plan your Palawan trip way ahead of time. Make sure to book with a licensed tour operator that only partners with reputable service providers.
Choosing the right tour company that gears toward ‘ecotourism’ would be the best decision every responsible traveler will make. Find a tour operator that only offers small group tours. Tour companies that have smaller groups tend to be more mindful of the environment and the impact they are leaving. Big cattle boats however cheap, are not sustainable. You don’t go to a place to ruin it for everybody. However, most people here in El Nido cannot see the bigger picture yet. Most companies are profit-driven with no regard for the environment. Unfortunately, Trip advisor reviews are not the end-all-be-all of travel agencies here in El Nido. They might not always be what the travelers claim. Perhaps it would be better to talk to a local expert beforehand or find out the unbiased reviews of other travelers.
Make sure to choose a tour company that takes environmental and social responsibility seriously. A company that does not only take and only works with those that share the same eco-minded belief. It is important to choose a Palawan tour operator that provides great value and gives back to the community.
Professionalism and 24/7 Client Service
Make sure to choose the right Palawan tour operator that responds to your enquiries right away. A professional tour company that values your time and provides excellent client service. The great thing is that there’s a comprehensive tour operator that sets the bar, with an itinerary specialist that will respond to your email right away. A company dedicated to providing 24/7 client service. That’s personalized attention right off the bat.
You want to be treated like a human being by human beings and not like just another traveler in El Nido. Unfortunately, most of the popular tour companies cannot offer a more personalized attention. The local guide belongs to everyone. You go where everyone else goes. You cannot make any demands as you are tied to a big group for the whole duration of your tour.
Make sure to choose a comprehensive Palawan tour operator that takes into consideration your interests and needs. It’s the one thing that makes it stand out from the big box tour operators in town. After all, it is your holiday, your design.
Karen is the local expert and itinerary specialist of Palawan AlterNATIVE. When she’s not traveling, she likes to immerse herself in a good book or blog about her life. Parts geek, parts scuba diver. Her other obsessions include things-to-do lists, cycling, solitude, and cryptocurrency. She currently lives with her cat in El Nido.