The struggling tourism industry in this province got a boost on Wednesday when 73 Australian tourists arrived in Cawit Port here aboard the cruise ship Coral Adventurer.
Their arrival has been eagerly anticipated with provincial authorities drumming-up publicity over social media in the past weeks, and tourism sector stakeholders rolling out the red carpet for their foreign guests.
In an interview, Rino Labay, provincial tourism officer, said the Coral Adventurer’s arrival marks the first time in 14 years that a cruise ship has dropped anchor in the province.
Such ship last docked in the province in April 9, 2009, when a vessel operated by Manila-based 7,107 Islands Cruise came to visit with some 400 mostly Filipino vacationers.
“We welcomed them this morning in distinctly Marinduque style… with members of the welcoming committee playing the ‘Kalutang’ – which is a native musical instrument here consisting of two wooden sticks,” Labay told the Philippine News Agency.
Labay described their Australian guests as being aged between 57 to 91 years, and mostly retirees.
The Coral Adventurer is regarded as one of the smaller vessels being operated by Australia-headquartered Coral Expeditions, with room for 120 passengers and a crew of 41, according to the company’s website.
Labay, who personally led the tour around the provincial capital of Boac, said the province’s guests enthusiastically purchased locally-made handicrafts and delicacies.
Their itinerary for the day included barn-storming visits to the Boac Plaza and Municipal Park, Casa Real, Boac Old Houses, National Museum and the Boac Public Market.
Labay said the incumbent provincial administration is seeking to position Marinduque as a destination for cruise ships with the aim of invigorating the overall tourism sector here.
“The tourism sector is still reeling from the effects of the pandemic… and we are still in the process of developing the industry’s capabilities. But the provincial government is aggressively pursuing the tourism market because our micro and small-scale enterprises stand to benefit greatly from the arrival of more guests,” he said.
Even as the Australians are scheduled to depart later on the same day they arrived, Labay said his office is already coordinating with another tour company regarding the visit of another cruise ship next year. (PNA)