The Department of Tourism (DOT) welcomed over a thousand guests, officers, and crew aboard the posh Azamara Journey, one of the luxury boutique-style vessels of the Azamara Club Cruises fleet, last 2 April 2014. The ship made a maiden call at the Eva Macapagal Passenger Terminal in Manila South Harbor for an overnight stay in Manila as part of a 17-night Southeast Asian voyage that hailed from Hong Kong, Sandakan, Papolo of Sulawesi, Komodo, Bali, and Semarang before finally heading to its last stop in Singapore.
DOT Undersecretary Atty. Maria Victoria V. Jasmin led other representatives of the agency during the official welcome ceremonies onboard the vessel. Plaques were exchanged between Azamara Journey Captain Johannes Tysse and Philippine Ports Authority Manager Atty. Francisquiel Mancile; Executive Vice President of Asian Terminals Inc. Andrew Hoad and Assistant General Manager of Wallem Philippines Shipping, Inc. Antonio Calingo, Jr.. Undersecretary Jasmin also presented a commemorative token to Captain Tysse. Other guests included officials from the Philippine Ports Authority, Azamara Cruises, and business partners.
The Undersecretary said that the country’s cruise tourism looks very promising. “Last year, three luxury liners made their maiden calls on Manila and other top tourist destination shores of the country. And in January this year, MV Costa Victoria of the world renowned Costa Cruises made its maiden call on Manila after visiting Puerto Princesa and Boracay. This growing interest in our country as a port of call should, therefore, fuel more public-private investments between the government and private sector in preparing our tourism gateways,” Undersecretary Jasmin added.
“An aggregate of 41,624 cruise passengers were received by different ports of the country last year, reflecting a 19.35% increase over the 23,857 recorded in 2012. We attribute this upsurge to the aggressive market development efforts and government-private sector partnership, which encouraged more cruise companies to include the Philippines in their offerings. This signals that the country is finally growing to become a preferred cruise destination in the region. As a response to this burgeoning demand, the DOT has since geared up its efforts in this once Europe and US dominated market. And we are determined to sustain this interest and grow the cruise market to benefit more of our island destinations,” Tourism Secretary Ramon R. Jimenez, Jr. shared.
Azamara Journey is sailing 12 to 17 night voyages throughout the East and South China seas from January through April 2014, alternating departures from Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Mumbai, and Chennai. Cruise tourism is one of the niche markets being developed by the DOT. This year, the country is expected to welcome a total of 23 vessel calls, five of which will make their maiden calls on Manila and several top tourist destination shores, bringing an estimated 24,000 passengers.