The Department of Tourism (DOT) tackled some of the most pressing issues and concerns on cruise tourism with government and private stakeholders responsible for this product portfolio, as the country embarks on its goal as a “regional cruise center” in Asia.
Since opening the country to international travel, 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.”
“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 statement during the forum underscoring the importance of this meeting.
The tourism chief consistently emphasized President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr.’s efforts to ensure the Philippines fully opens up in travel and tourism.
“Gateways—air, maritime and land—are essential to the success of tourism.”
“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,” the tourism head added, recognizing that gateways—air, maritime and land—are essential to the success of tourism.
Among the matters discussed during the forum included 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.
Attending the meeting are 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 present were Department of Information Communications Technology (DICT) 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.
Private Cruise and Shore Excursion companies included Travel People, Sharp Travel, and Baron Travel. Meanwhile, port handlers were represented by Wallem Philippines, Ben Line Agencies and Soriamont Steamship Agencies.