By Tara Yap
With world-famous Boracay Island opening its doors to tourists again in three months, the Department of Tourism (DOT) announced that international cruise ships will also revisit the country’s most popular beach destination.
Atty. Helen Catalbas, DOT regional director for Western Visayas, told the Manila Bulletin Saturday that anywhere from five to eight cruise ships are expected to visit the island resort in Malay town, Aklan province right after October 26 until next year.
Among the cruise ships expected to dock are Royal Caribbean Cruises, Celebrity Cruises and Star Cruises. Each cruise ship may carry anywhere from 1,500 to 4,500 passengers and crew.
In an earlier DOT announcement, 18 cruise liners are originally scheduled to make a stop in Boracay. But only 16 were able to dock prior to the April 26 tourism closure.
Catalbas explained that Boracay is supposed to be one of the three major destinations for international cruise liners in the country. The other two are Manila and Palawan.
With Boracay’s closure, Catalbas said the other cruise ships were diverted to Subic and Bohol.
While there was previously a strong campaign to beef up cruise tourism in Boracay, DOT is changing gears with the Duterte administration’s massive rehabilitation program to save the resort island from further environmental and social woes.
Meanwhile, DOT is still waiting for the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to release Boracay’s carrying capacity.
Catalbas noted that without the carrying capacity, DOT cannot draft an annual target for the ideal number of tourists including those who are part of cruise tours.
Last year, 15 cruise liners docked off the coast of Boracay.