Boracay seen as cruise destinationBy Nestor P. Burgos Jr. |Inquirer Visayas
ILOILO CITY—The Department of Tourism in Western Visayas is studying the promotion of Boracay Island as a destination for the lucrative cruise ship market.
Helen Catalbas, regional tourism director, said at least three international cruise ships have signified intention to visit the island next year.
“This is a new and important tourism market. While the tourists will be staying in the ship instead of hotels, they will spend time on the island for swimming, island-hopping, golf and other sport activities, shopping and dining,” Catalbas said.
Boracay is expecting the arrival of The Legend of the Seas, the biggest cruise ship to visit the island. It is expected to drop anchor in waters between Caticlan in the Aklan mainland and Cagban Port in Boracay, according to Tim Ticar, officer-in-charge of the Department of Tourism office in Boracay.
Boracay will be the cruise ship’s last stop in the Philippines before proceeding to Taiwan.
Ticar said cruise ships with at least 600 passengers had stopped near the island but only a few passengers disembarked to visit Boracay.
Catalbas said it is important to provide a “total and enjoyable experience” even if Boracay is already famous for its white beach and crystal clear waters.
Ticar said Boracay has drawn more interest from cruise ship companies due to various activities and attractions aside from the beach.
Dionisio Salme, president of the Boracay Foundation Inc., a group of business operators on the island, said word-of-mouth from happy tourists could help promote Boracay as a cruise ship stop.
Passengers will be transported from the cruise ship to Boracay onboard service boats that can accommodate up to 150 persons per trip.
Upon arrival on the island, tourists will be shuttled to four designated holding areas where they can choose to go swimming, engage in water sports, play golf, go shopping or dine in restaurants.
Chief Supt. Agrimero Cruz Jr., Western Visayas police director, said the Philippine National Police and other law enforcement agencies have tightened security measures on the island for the cruise ship passengers. More policemen will be deployed to areas where the tourists will converge and visit.
The Coast Guard has also put in place safety measures for the cruise ship visit.