The Department of Tourism said on Monday, February 6 that beginning this month, international luxury cruise ships would make their way to the Eastern Visayas.
The arrival of these vessels, which had been briefly suspended owing to the COVID-19 health issue, signifies the restoration of sailing to beach and island locations in the Philippines.
The first vessel to arrive will be Silversea Cruises, a premium cruise line run by the Monaco-based Royal Caribbean Group. The ship is scheduled to anchor on February 10 at Kalanggaman Island in Palompon, Leyte, with 382 passengers and 295 crew members who are all American.
Before they are permitted to disembark, the Bureau of Immigration, Bureau of Customs, and the health department will conduct checks on the visitors, the majority of whom are from Papua New Guinea, according to Maria Catherina Apostol, the chief tourist operations officer of DOT in Eastern Visayas.
During their stay, the tourists will be able to immerse themselves in regional experiences and indulge in regional cuisine.
Karen Tiopes, director of DOT-Eastern Visayas, stated that the region is nearly 100 percent prepared for the arrival of international luxury cruise ships.
Accredited service providers, with the assistance of Palompon’s municipal administration and the DOT, have taken arrangements to guarantee the international visitors have an unforgettable experience.
The island of Kalanggaman will be transformed into a festival venue where tourists will be delighted with regional food, dancing performances, and other surprises, according to Tiopes.
Arriving on February 10, Silversea Cruise will be making its second visit to the island, which, according to Tiopes, visitors “immensly fell in love with due to its vast sand bars, uniqueness, and tranquillity.”
Estiffi Jahn The coordinator for Estiffi Events Management Services in Region VIII, Gryce Estrella, verified that all preparations for the arrival of the international cruise ship had been made and authorized by Silversea Cruises.
At least 500 government employees participating in the preparations have received training on the Filipino style of service, and frequent inspections have been conducted to verify that all standards are completed.
Kalanggaman Island is a 753-meter-long, tiny island located between Cebu and Leyte near Palompon, Leyte.
The island boasts a long, white sandbar that is as fine as powder and is described as a postcard-perfect paradise. It is sometimes referred to as the “Crown Jewel of Leyte” and is one of the country’s most popular summer beach attractions.
The island acquired international recognition in 2013 when the MV Europa Cruise Line, a German luxury cruise, made a stop and its guests were awestruck by the island’s crystal-clear seas and tranquility.
Since then, Kalanggaman Island has been a frequent stop for cruise ships headed for the Philippines.
Despite being ravaged by Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) in 2013, the local government and residents restored the island’s beauty, and it became a Google search trend in 2016.
The Eastern Visayas will see more cruise ships in the coming months, according to officials.
In May, the Swan Hellenic Cruises will visit Limasawa Island in Southern Leyte and Capul Island in Northern Samar with 152 passengers and 120 staff members.
The Cora Adventurer is planned to tour several places in Eastern Visayas from November 1-13 with 120 passengers and 48 crew members, including Biri rock formations, Maripipi Island, Sambawan Island, Tacloban City, Cuatro Islas, and Kalanggaman Island.
The tourist sector in the Philippines had a prosperous year in 2022, surpassing its goal of 1.7 million international arrivals with 2.65 million. According to the DOT, this resulted in a 2,465.75% rise in tourist income, totaling P208.96 billion, and the development of an estimated 5.23 million tourism-related employment.
The majority of tourists came from a variety of countries, including the United States, South Korea, Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom.
As travel restrictions were eased, the tourist comeback was ascribed to the coordination between national and local governments, as well as the active engagement of the corporate sector.
Secretary of Tourism Christina Garcia Frasco stated, “There is much work to be done.”
She stated that the government’s objective is not just to restore the tourism sector to its pre-pandemic level – when it contributed over 12% of the country’s overall gross domestic product – but also to position the Philippines as a leading tourism destination.