By Roel Amazona
Philippine News Agency
TACLOBAN CITY — The Department of Tourism (DOT) in Eastern Visayas is eyeing two additional tourist destinations in the region to be part of cruise tourism.
DOT Regional Director Karina Rosa Tiopes said they have seen the potential of Sambawan Island in Maripipi, Biliran and the town of Liloan in Southern Leyte to attract cruise tourists.
“We are preparing these places and pitching these sites to cruise tour operators who are interested in looking for new sites,” Tiopes said.
Sambawan, a semi-curved island that is about an hour sea travel from Kawayan port, features a series of interconnecting stony islets with soaring rock formations covered with green grass. It has become the most visited attraction for tourists in the province.
The island is also a marine sanctuary and a popular dive site. It has an extensive wealth of marine life, good visibility, and corals that are in good condition. Turtles, sea snakes, and reef sharks are also found there.
A view deck was built at the highest point to give tourists the best view of the entire island and witness the spectacular sunrise and the glorious sunset.
Meanwhile, Liloan town, one of the gateways for travelers from Mindanao to Eastern Visayas, offers some of the best beaches in Southern Leyte province that gives tourist awesome time of relaxation and adventure.
Tagbak Marine Park is one of the popular sites in Liloan ideal for swimming, snorkeling, diving, sea turtle watching, and wild duck watching.
The Molopolo Beach Resort, also in Liloan, offers tourists a long stretch of fine white sand and a clear water ideal for boating and surfing.
“In pitching a site, we look at the authenticity of its tourist destination, the history and culture, and cooperation of the local government units and the community to make the site viable for cruise ship destination,” Tiopes said.
As a multi-million leisure industry, cruise tourism is one of the fastest-growing sectors in the tourism industry that provides a significant contribution to the economy and communities to its destination.
Since 2013, Eastern Visayas has been part of the itinerary for port call of cruise ships visiting the country. Most of these are expedition cruises which involves smaller cruise ship with capacity of 100 to 300 tourists.
Those who are into expedition cruises are tourists looking for authentic natural attraction and sites and do community and cultural immersion.
Regular cruise ships destinations in Eastern Visayas are Kalanggaman Island in Palompon, Limasawa Island in Southern Leyte, Capul Island in Northern Samar, and Cuatro Islas in the towns of Inopacan and Hindang in Leyte. (PNA)