TACLOBAN CITY – The regional office of the Department of Tourism (DOT) is looking for more sites in the region that can be pitched to cruise tour operators for bigger cruise ships to visit.
Eastern Visayas has been part of the cruise tourism industry since 2013 but with only smaller vessels carrying from 100 to about 600 guests for expedition cruises, sites have been curated.
Among the destinations frequently included in the cruise itinerary in the region are Kalanggaman Island and Cuatro Islas in Leyte province; Limasawa Island in Southern Leyte; and Capul Island in Northern Samar.
Newly included places for cruise destinations are Padre Burgos in Southern Leyte; Canigao Island, Tacloban City, and Palo in Leyte; Maripipi and Sambawan in Biliran; and Biri Island in Northern Samar.
“They want an area where the water is clear, snorkeling is good. They are not even asking for extravagant facilities,” DOT-8 Regional Director Karina Rosa Tiopes said, adding that functional comfort rooms or toilets that will be used by the guests are very important.
The beach area they are looking for should be within the mainland which can accommodate 1,000 to 2,000 guests.
Tiopes added that they are particularly looking for these areas in the provinces of Samar, Northern Samar, and Eastern Samar where there are long coastline of beaches that are still untouched and unexplored by most tourists.
“They are looking for a Boracay-like experience but with less people,” she added.
Since 2013, several cruise ships have visited the region and expanded the number of areas visited from only one to 11 areas.
For this year, the DOT regional office is preparing two additional areas for cruise destinations. Included in these two additional sites is Maasin City, the capital of Southern Leyte.
“The growth of cruise tourism is not only measured with the number of cruise calls. It may be one cruise ship but it visited several destinations like the Coral Adventurer wherein from the original nine destinations to visit in Eastern Visayas it increased to 11 sites,” she added.
Coral Adventurer is expected to return this year with a new batch of tourists.
(ROEL T. AMAZONA)