INTERNATIONAL CRUISE. Tour cruise operators from the region joined the Seatrade Cruise Global event in Miami, Florida, USA. (PHOTO COURTESY)

TACLOBAN CITY – Eastern Visayas joined this year’s Seatrade Cruise Global in Miami, Florida, USA which ended on Thursday (April 11).

Seatrade Cruise Global is an annual gathering and the leading cruise industry exhibition and conference and the world’s largest event for cruise line executives and suppliers of cruise services.

This annual event is attended by more than 10,000 individuals from the cruise industry all over the world, and showcasing more than 600 exhibitors from more than 120 countries.
Eastern Visayas has been part of the cruise tourism since 2013 when MV Europa Cruise Line, by German-based Hapag-Lloyd Cruises, visited the island of Kalanggaman in Palompon, Leyte.

From a lone cruise ship destination, the number has increased since then, adding more places in the region in cruise call itineraries, mostly island destinations.

Included in these cruise destinations are Capul and Biri Islands in Northern Samar, Limasawa in Southern Leyte, Cuatro Islas in Leyte, Maripipi and Sambawan Island in Biliran province, and Canigao Island in Leyte province.

Tacloban City and Palo in Leyte, and Padre Burgos in Southern Leyte are also part of cruise destinations.

“We are promoting the existing cruise destination in Eastern Visayas plus two new ones,” DOT Regional Director Karina Rosa Tiopes said when asked how important for the region in participating international cruise events.

Tiopes said that during this event, Philippine cruise tour operators sell local destinations to the cruise companies that make cruise calls in Asia.

Cruise ships that visit the region offer expedition cruises. These have smaller vessels with a capacity of less than 1,000 guests and crew and cater to the high-end market.

“They have guests who are willing to pay for shore excursions that offer authentic immersion activities that allow them to learn and appreciate the culture, heritage, history, way of life, and the natural wonders of a destination. They prefer places that are below the tourist radar,” the tourism official explained.

The arrival of cruise ships not only helps in promoting the region to the international market but also indirectly promotes the region to the local and domestic tourist market.
“This opens a vantage opportunity for the region to develop tour programs and promote destinations that are off the beaten track. Most of these places are hardly visited by even local tourists. However, when cruise ships visit, the local and domestic tourist market becomes curious. Ultimately, they start visiting these places as well,” Tiopes said.

To keep cruise ships continue visiting and making port calls to the region, the tourism department in the region is always on the lookout for new sites to offer for cruise tour companies to market.

Tiopes said that they are not particularly looking for developed beach areas but more on quaint places where foreign guests may rest and enjoy but must also have facilities like comfort rooms.