A lack of port infrastructure isn’t slowing down the growth of cruising to the Philippines, as popular tourist island of Boracay survives its busiest year of cruising.
According to the Philippines Department of Tourism, the famous beach destination is expected to welcome 20 cruise ship visits this year. This includes Royal Caribbean’s Legend of the Seas, which will stop by in August during a 10-night Southeast Asia itinerary, and Silver Shadow, which will arrive in November while cruising from Singapore to Hong Kong.
The Western Visayas branch of the tourism bureau – the region of the Philippines Boracay belongs to – said that while proud of cruise growth, the island and region is far from reaching its potential. “Western Visayas is composed of many islands and ports that, if promoted, can also be a host to cruise ship coming from all over the world,” the Department of Tourism said.
This was backed by the bureau’s assistant secretary Benito C Bengzon Jr who told ASEAN Cruising earlier this year that in order to attract more cruise ships to smaller islands like Boracay, the government needs to invest in promotion and development. “What we have seen over the past five years is a shift towards the island destinations like Boracay, Palawan and Puerto Princesa and some of the destinations that not many people have heard of, like the One Hundred Islands chain,” he said.
“We need to increase the frequency of these port visits and to do that we need to make sure that the required level of port infrastructure is there, and also to create a higher level of awareness on the country as a whole but also for specific destinations.’’
Next year, Boracay will welcome two new ships, as Oceania Cruises sends both Nautica and Insignia to the island in January and April. The first visit will be made on 28 January during a 20-day Hong Kong to Bangkok cruise aboard 684-passenger Nautica. The second visit will be made on 18 April, when Insignia arrives during her 180-day Around the World cruise.
Boracay Island is only 4.5 miles long and is known for having some of the best beaches in the world. Last week, TripAdvisor named the destination as the eighth best in Asia, behind Ko Tao, Bali, Phuket, Ko Samui, Lombok, Ko Lanta and Ko Phangan.