Japanese cruise line to include PH as regular port destination

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Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO / GRIG C. MONTEGRANDE

A major Japanese cruise company will include the Philippines as a regular port of call next year, the Department of Tourism (DOT) said yesterday as its officials conducted a three-day business mission in the East Asian country to attract more visitors and tourism investors.

In a statement from Osaka, the DOT Secretary Wanda Teo said JCL is the leading cruise line in Japan and has so far, been the sole liner whose patrons are predominantly Japanese. JCL’s main cruise ship, the Pacific Venus, carries up to 600 passengers.

“We are happy to announce that we will be deploying the Pacific Venus to the Philippines next year. We hope to receive the usual support for the safe and enjoyable stay of our passengers,” the DOT quoted JCL senior managing director Kenji Yoneda as saying.

Teo, who is leading the Philippine Business Mission in three Japanese cities, thanked the Japan Cruise Lines for its decision to include the Philippines as a regular itinerary in 2018.

“We are confident that with JCL resuming its operations in the Philippines, visitor arrivals from Japan will notably increase to enable this top four source market to inevitably rise from its present rank,” she said

The JCL brought the Pacific Venus to Puerto Princesa City and Manila in November 2015, and to Bohol, Boracay, Manila and the Hundred Islands of Pangasinan in November last year.

Teo said the Philippines has had regular calls from vessels international cruise companies such as the Royal Caribbean Cruise Ltd. and Star Cruises.

“I am confident that more international cruise operators will find our country lucrative as we go about implementing key measures such as the development of port and shore-side infrastructure, facilitation of business entry and offering more exciting shore excursions, among others,” Teo added.

Cruise tourism is one of the nine product portfolios identified in the DOT’s National Tourism Development Plan (NTDP) which aims to enhance the country’s competitiveness as a tourist destination in the Asia-Pacific region.

The promotion of cruises was further elaborated in the National Cruise Tourism Strategy, completed by the DOT last year, and the Asean Cruise Brand, an intra-regional and multi-country initiative.

Latest DOT statistics showed that international cruise calls to the Philippines have been growing at an average rate of 27.8 percent over the past four years, from 56 calls in 2014, followed by 70 calls the following year, and 72 calls last year.

This year, DOT is projecting over a hundred port calls in the Philippines bringing in an estimated 122,000 cruise passengers. JPV

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