THE province of Cebu wants become the next hub for international cruise ships.
Last week, Cebu welcomed at least a thousand guests when a cruise ship docked and stayed overnight in Cebu, according to Department of Tourism (DOT) 7 Director Rowena Montecillo.
While the province has been receiving cruise lines, she pointed out that poor port infrastructure is one of the major constraints for the development of cruise tourism in Cebu.
“Yes, we do want to be included in the map of international cruise ships. But right now, we have some problems with the port area. But the Cebu Port Authority is looking into that. They are looking at another place or another town very near Cebu City to transfer all of these cargo ships so that we can allow the Cebu International Port, or Pier 6 to really concentrate on cruise liners,” Montecillo said.
She cited the construction of a new international container port in Consolacion as a welcome development to push the plan to sell Cebu as an international cruise destination.
The new P9-billion Cebu International Port (CIP) in Tayud, Consolacion aims to decongest the CIP in Cebu City. This new port, with an area of 60 hectares, will be constructed for three years.
The region’s tourism chief also believes Cebu can offer good tourism packages to the cruise tourism market because it is blessed with natural resources, including beautiful beaches that are only 30 minutes to 40 minutes away from the city.
She also added that tour packages are already in place should guests prefer countryside tours to neighboring islands like Bohol, which is Cebu’s twin partner in tourism.
“Cebu is the second destination outside Manila, as it can offer almost the same things that Manila can offer with pluses,” she said. “For now, it’s really just the problem on the ships’ docking area at Pier 6. But as I’ve said, the Cebu Ports Authority is already addressing that issue.”
The DOT is working with the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) to develop selected ports across the country for cruise tourism. Both agencies have listed eight ports as the country’s top international hubs for cruise liners which include Davao, Bohol, Boracay, Cebu, Metro Manila, Puerto Princesa, Subic and Zamboanga.
The 2014 WEF Global Competitiveness Index indicates that the Philippines’ port infrastructure ranks 101 of the 144 covered by the study. That places the country as the lowest in Asean, behind Singapore (ranked second), Malaysia (19), Thailand (54), Indonesia (77), and Vietnam (88).
Sea tourist arrivals, mostly via cruises, rose to 52,820 passengers in 2014 from 41,624 in 2013 and 23,857 in 2012, according to DOT data. Cruise tourism is one of the strategic tourism products identified under DOT’s National Tourism Development Plan.
Source: Katlene O. Cacho | Sun Star Cebu