The Department of Tourism (DOT) has discussed some of the most pressing issues and concerns on cruise tourism with government and private stakeholders, as the country eyes to be the “regional cruise center” in Asia.
In a statement released on Monday, Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco said cruise tourism has been a “very viable tourism product” for the Philippines, with over 34 percent increase on the country’s cruise calls compared to numbers from 2019.
“The contributions of our stakeholders in cruise tourism and the challenges that are faced by the industry, we feel, require government convergence and collaboration with our stakeholders,” Frasco said in her opening message during the forum stressing the importance of the meeting.
“The DOT has collaborated with fellow government agencies in order that we may be able to fully align our policies so that our partner stakeholders would be able to fully maximize the opportunities that have been presented to them post-pandemic,” she added.
Moreover, Frasco consistently emphasized President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr.’s efforts to ensure that the Philippines fully opens up in travel and tourism.
Among the matters discussed during the forum were the remaining travel restrictions and arrival protocols for unvaccinated cruise passengers; the continued improvement and integration of e-Travel Pass, Shore Pass as the basic requirements for cruise tourism; the implementation of issuance of the cruise visa waiver; and status updates on the ongoing refurbishment of the Eva Macapagal Terminal in Manila as dedicated cruise port; as well as exploratory efforts in opening of Cebu ports for cruise calls.
Present in the meeting were key officials from the DOT including Undersecretary Shahlimar Hofer Tamano, OIC Undersecretary Verna Buensuceso, Directors Paulo Tugbang, Judilyn Quiachon, and Regional Directors Roberto Alabado of DOT-MIMAROPA and Sharlene Batin of the National Capital Region.
Other government representatives in attendance were Department of Information Communications Technology Undersecretary David Almirol, Jr.; Bureau of Immigration’s Dennis Javier; Marina’s Director Luisito delos Santos; Bureau of Quarantine’s Edgar Maala; and Philippine Ports Authority’s Emily Briones.
Further, private cruise and shore excursion companies included Travel People, Sharp Travel, and Baron Travel while port handlers were represented by Wallem Philippines, Ben Line Agencies and Soriamont Steamship Agencies.
On the same day, Frasco also welcomed Dr. Karen Remo, CEO and Founder of New Perspective Media Group, to tackle the diverse range of tourism opportunities that the Philippines can promote in the Middle East.