Long, bitter winters augur well for Philippine tourism

By DateLine Philippines

Here’s one for global warming:  Long and bitter winters in the United States and Europe help boost island destination-tourism in the Philippines.

Tourism secretary Ace Durano on Monday reported marked increases in the number of tourist arrivals in the country through cruise ships and chartered flights during the cold months in the US and Europe.

Durano said a series of cruise ship arrivals in the country on board various ships of Italy’s Costa Cruises until November this year will bring in more than 22,000 affluent tourists from US, France and other European countries.  They are expected to visit various island destinations such as Cebu, Bohol and Boracay.

He said the cruise influx boosts local tourism and subsequently brings benefits to the local economy, particularly tourism-led business ventures and employment.

“In addition to our chartered flights, the cruise ship tours would help drive tourism growth by providing a competitive opportunity for affluent travelers from the US, Europe and Asia to visit the country, see our attractions, and recognize our economic potentials,” said Durano.

He added that cruise companies venturing to the Philippines for the first time boost the country’s confidence of now being on the radar.  “This opens up more possibilities of other ships visiting our shores,” Durano said.

The tourism chief on Monday led travel authorities and tour operators in welcoming some 1,300 affluent travelers from Europe on board Costa Classica.

The luxury cruise ship is part of Costa Cruises, Italy’s largest tourism group and Europe’s number one cruise company.

Durano said Costa Cruises through its three ships: Costa Allegra, Costa Classica and Costa Romantica will begin regular calls to Manila through its ground handler Travel People.

Secretary Durano also said that England’s Acromas Shipping Limited, through its luxury cruise ship MS Spirit of Adventure, recently brought over 300 British and French nationals to the country as part of the 16-day tour of Asia.

The Philippines had the longest tour itinerary, as the ship docked in four different ports of call that included Cebu, Boracay, Manila, and La Union.

“The cruise industry’s growing recognition of the country’s numerous island experiences and shore excursions translates to a greater number of cruise ships and an even greater number of international tourists in the coming days,” said Durano.

He further disclosed that over 700 passengers of various nationalities joined the first Asian tour of MV Voyages of Discovery, also of Acromas Shipping Limited, and were engaged in a local trip itinerary that included, among others, tours in Old Manila, Pagsanjan Falls, Tagaytay and Corregidor Island.

MS Amadea, another luxury cruise ship, will dock in the port of Manila in March with some 700 German tourists.  The cruise ship will be joined by Silversea Whisper, with 384 guests, and Regent Seven Seas Voyager, carrying more than 600 guests of various nationalities.

Tourism undersecretary Eduardo Jarque, Jr. said “the Philippines could soon become the choice cruise destination in Asia among travelers, owing to our natural island attractions and the continued efforts in accommodating local cruise expansion.”

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