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Friday, May 18, 2012

Group formed to draw cruise ships to Davao

DAVAO CITY -- Officials of the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) and the Department of Tourism (DoT) have formed a technical working group to prepare a masterplan targeting the luxury cruise liner industry.

The technical working group includes the private sector and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH). It plans to address access to inland tourism destinations for passengers of cruise liners, officials said.

The Tourism department has identified Davao as among the country’s eight tourism gateways, joining Metro Manila, Cebu, Subic, Bohol, Boracay, Puerto Princesa and Zamboanga. 

Last March 29, M/V Princess Danae, a Portuguese cruise ship operated by NDS Voyages, docked at the Davao Port with 371 French nationals on board. Davao City was on the list of stopovers in the 127-day voyage that includes Australia, China, Thailand, Vietnam, Papua New Guinea and the Mediterranean. 

Arturo T. Boncato, Jr., regional Tourism head, said Davao Port has all the tools to handle cruise liners.

Davao City is considered among the country’s safest areas for tourists, he noted. "M/VPrincess Danae will surely not be the last of the many luxury ships to come," he said.

Asterio C. Gallardo, Jr., division manager of PPA-Southern Mindanao Engineering Services, said his office is always ready to provide assistance to help draw cruise ships into the Davao region. 

A large cruise ship from Royal Caribbean International is expected to come to Davao City next year. 

Ma. Valle A. Congzon, DoT Central Office supervising tourism operations officer, said the Davao Region has its work cut out for it particularly in trying to drum up, and later sustain, interest in local destinations and culture. 

Local stakeholders should ensure the safety and comfort of tourists as well as offer plenty of shopping opportunities during their short period of stay in the region, she said. 

The technical working group has inspected several ferry terminals that serve as main access points to the white-sand beaches of Samal Island. The group also visited the ports in Samal to gauge their readiness to receive the influx of tourists. -- Joel B. Escovilla

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