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Thursday, March 5, 2015

DoT positions Davao as cruise ship stop


By Carmencita A. Carillo


Davao City, Davao
The arrival last week of a United States-based cruise ship, with 88 foreign guests on board, at the Sasa Port here has renewed efforts to promote the city as a main stop for luxury liners going around Asia.

M/S Caledonian Sky at Davao City's Sasa Port

—  Tourism Assistant Secretary Arturo P. Boncato, Jr., said the promotion of cruise ship tourism is part of the Philippines’ tourism master plan and has been identified as a major product by the tourism cluster of the Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines sub-regional grouping of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. (ASEAN).

“Singapore and Hong Kong are major hubs for cruise ship tourism and the Philippines is strategically located in the area,” Mr. Boncato said.

He added that promotion efforts are being undertaken so that cruise operators can schedule their stops during special events such as the International Paragliding festival in Sarangani province in March and Siargao’s annual pro surfing event.


DAVAO VISIT
Last week, Zegrahm Expedition’s vessel M/S Caledonian Sky dropped anchor at the Sasa Port here where it was welcomed by traditional dance performances by elementary students and a group from the Department of Tourism (DoT).

“I was here in 2000 but there was not much welcome and excitement like the one today. I think our guests will come back. The DoT did a good job,” said Lynne Greig, cruise director.

Davao was the last of the 17 ports of call by the ship, which took off in Malaysia. It made stops in Palawan, Limasawa in Leyte, Donsol in Sorsogon and several other islands in the Visayas.

After a day tour of some of Davao’s tourist destinations, the guests flew to Manila to catch their flights back to the US and Canada.

Meanwhile, 66 new passengers boarded the M/S Caledonian Sky for an expedition in Indonesia.

Ms. Greig said the company is looking into the inclusion again of Davao in next year’s tour.

Roberto P. Alabado III, DoT Davao Region director said, “This is the start of more cruise ships making Davao part of their destination. Competitors will start to wonder why Zeghram has beaten them to this destination.”

Meanwhile, Ma. Felisa C. Marques, officer-in-charge of the City Tourism Operations Office, noted that cruise ships used to call on the port of Davao but stopped in recent years due to the perceived law and order problems in Mindanao.

“This recent development shows the growing confidence of foreign tourists in the region,” Ms. Marques said.

However, Mr. Alabado pointed out the need to focus on the development of the Sta. Ana Port given that Sasa Port is mainly intended for cargo operations.

“We hope the city can develop the Sta. Ana Port as it is near the downtown area,” he said.

There is a pending P15-billion proposed project to develop the Sta. Ana wharf through a public-private partnership scheme.

The local government of Davao has given full support to the plan, but the project is subject to the approval of the national government under the Build-Operate-Transfer Law.


source:Business World


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