More port calls seen for cruise tourism

Louise Maureen Simeon - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Tourism (DOT) expects cruise tourism to exceed the port calls in 2015 as the agency continues to expand avenues amid air connectivity issues in the country.

DOT-National Capital Region director Christer Gaudiano said over 70 ship calls are expected this year in the port of Manila alone.

Last year, the Philippines attracted a total of 52 port calls from 44 in 2014.

“With the continued increase in international cruise ship arrivals in Manila, we are now pouring in much of our efforts in extending our Meet and Assist Program to the port of Manila,” Gaudiano said.

The MV Prestige Cruises-Insignia is the 15th and latest international cruise vessel to arrive in the Manila South Harbor for the first quarter with around 1,000 passengers.

Among the major ship calls expected include the Legend of the Seas, the lead ship of the Vision Class operated by Royal Caribbean International, with approximately 2,200 passengers. The cruise ship is scheduled to dock in Manila five times from May to October.

The Celebrity Millennium carrying over 2,500 passengers will call at the Port of Manila by yearend while Japanese cruise ship Pacific Venus will also arrive in late 2016 with more than 500 passengers on board.

DOT said the tourism campaign has delivered significant gains and success with the arrival of major cruise ships as it capitalizes on the country’s coastal resources.

The DOT recently completed the National Cruise Tourism Development Strategy to attract more tourists and position the Philippines as a more prominent cruise destination.

As the plan commences this year, DOT said it will focus on infrastructure investments, streamlining of regulatory services, and the development of attractions through close coordination with stakeholders.

The Cruise Strategy identified developments in the Turquoise Triangle that links the destinations of Manila, Boracay and Puerto Princesa, as well as potential new cruise destinations in Northern Luzon.

Latest data from the DOT showed arrivals by sea reached 14,028. For February alone, 4,777 has been registered with Davao Port recording 1,118 followed by Batangas with 1,024.

On the other hand, Boracay received 979 while the rest of the seaports accumulated 1,656 arrivals.

Last year, cruise passenger volume rose 16 percent to 69,802 from 60,183 passengers in the comparative period  a year earlier.       

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