DOT expresses concern on mishandling of arrival passengers of Norweigian Jewal International cruise

THE Department of Tourism (DOT) expresses its grave concern on the incident that transpired during the arrival and disembarkation of passengers of the Norwegian Jewel International cruise at Pier 15 South Harbor, Manila on November 30, 2023.

The mishandling of arriving cruise passengers runs counter to the objectives of the Marcos Administration to enhance the overall tourist experience. Further, it is anathema to the Philippines’ current standing as Asia’s Best Cruise Destination 2023 which has been the result of hard work, convergence, and collaboration in the past year. 

Cruise Tourism is an important portfolio for the Philippines, one that is prioritized by the DOT in terms of promotion and development cognizant of the prospects of this niche market. In 2023 alone, Cruise Tourism allowed the Philippines to showcase 33 destinations, allowing us to spread the benefits of tourism across our islands in keeping with the objective of the National Tourism Development Plan (NTDP) for 2023 to 2028 to equalize tourism opportunities across the various regions of our country. 

To date, the Philippines has successfully welcomed 123 cruise calls, with every shore excursion in destinations including Aklan, Leyte, and Palawan, to name a few, always well-received not only by cruise agents, but most importantly, our cruise tourists. 

Unfortunately, the DOT was not included in the pre-arrival coordination meetings of the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) for the Norwegian Jewel with concerned parties, Asian Terminals, Inc., and Ben Line Agencies, Inc., as mentioned in PPA’s statement dated December 14. Nonetheless, as it has done in previous ports of call in the past, the DOT through its National Capital Region office was able to provide a welcome reception for the passengers on the day of their arrival.

Noting that the arrival processing concerns raised during the Norwegian Cruise Jewel port of call in Manila are beyond the jurisdiction of the Department of Tourism, the DOT would nonetheless like to emphasize the utmost importance of the improvement of our gateways whether by air, land, or sea, as these inform the first and last impression of our tourists. Hence, the DOT has requested the Department of Transportation’s (DOTr) intervention as well as the course of action of the said agency and that of the PPA to ensure that no such incidents are repeated. The DOT has also communicated its willingness to give its input to improve arrival procedures to improve the overall tourist experience.

The incident is taken by the DOT with utmost seriousness as the positive experience of tourists in the Philippines is paramount, and can only be assured with the full support of, and collaboration with, the DOTr and PPA to prioritize the convenience and safety of arriving passengers/tourists. 

The safety, comfort, and convenience of our tourists and guest travelers are always of utmost importance to the Department. The public may rest assured that the DOT remains committed to ensuring the growth of Cruise Tourism, a national industry that needs the collective effort of its stakeholders especially in our gateways in order to thrive and flourish.

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