Poor state of Philippine seaports lamented
from July 1, 2014 04:00 pm to July 1, 2014 04:00 pm
Manila BulletinManila Bulletin – Thu, Jun 26, 2014
Cebu City, Cebu – The lack and poor state of existing seaport terminals is a growing concern for Cebu tour operators who say they would have wanted to capitalize on inter-island connectivity to attract more tourists to secondary destinations.
“We cannot stress this enough - government must speed up its infrastructure programs and invest particularly in world-class seaport terminals because our country is archipelagic in nature. Inter-island connectivity is something we must take advantage of,” stressed Alice Queblatin, past president of the Cebu Association of Tour Operators (CATO).
Queblatin, who spoke during the recent Tourism and Investment Forum marking Cebu Business Month, said industry stakeholders are not seeing significant investments in improving existing seaport terminals nor the development of new ones. She also stressed that shipping companies must also improve their on-board facilities for travelers.
“Both local and foreign tourists are now demanding an exploration of the country’s different islands,” she said. In Cebu for instance, island destinations like Bantayan, Camotes, Malapascua, as well as neighboring provinces Bohol, Negros Oriental and Siquijor provinces are suffering from lack of sea-based transport access.
“We’re already getting a sizeable foreign tourist market very interested in island hopping but we cannot just send them off t hem off to the islands as we don’t have the kind of passenger ships catering to this type of market. If there are, these only cater to local transients,” Queblatin added.
She noted that government seems to have “aggressive” plans to build airport terminals across the country, but Queblatin said investments in seaport terminals and sea-based transportation should also be given equal attention considering that not all attractive destinations are accessible by air.
“Before we even begin exploring the possibility of offering cruise packages to Cebu and nearby destinations let us first redevelop our seaports infrastructure, including passenger terminals that could adequately accommodate our foreign artists,” she said.
“As of today, we are not ready for the international cruise ship market unless government and the private sector work now to improve our existing seaports,” Queblatin added.
She said one of the packages her group would like to develop is the Sun Islands Loop covering the islands of Cebu, Bohol, Dumaguete, Siquijor and Dipolog.
“To push for this type of tour package our local shipping lines should offer a kind of sea experience that would be appreciated by foreigners. And the time is ripe for this considering that we have many balikbayans and foreign tourists who are keen on sea travel,” she said.
Earlier, Warner Andrada, Chief Tourism Operations Officer for Planning and Development of the Department of Tourism (DOT) announced that government is talking with different international cruise lines through Cruise Lines International Association, in response to global cruise companies’ expressed interest in getting into the Philippine market.