Tacloban bizmen braces for full launch of San Juanico cruise

January 5, 2016 6:34 am 

TACLOBAN CITY, Jan. 4 -– The business group behind conceptualizing the cruise from downtown to San Juanico Bridge, the country’s longest, is looking for more investors to make the tourism activity up and running by summer.

Oliver Cam, consultant of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) Eastern Visayas Business Recovery Center, said the planned regular cruise tour from the city port to the famous San Juanico Bridge is still on hold, given the absence of boats that match the standard for cruise tourism.

“We initially have two 60-footer fiber glass boats donated to fishermen. These are fishing boats. In order for them to be converted to a cruise boat, they have to undergo the conversion process. We are still gathering enough funds,” Cam told PNA.

For each fishing boat, an additional PHP300,000 investment is needed to convert it for tourism, including the acquisition of additional equipments such as life vest, emergency ramp, two-way communication, and night navigation lighting system.

“We want to make those boats up to standards because we have histories in the Philippines that boats are not safely operated. In this case, we want to make an exception. We want to show that we can do this very safe. That’s why we are very strict in adhering standards,” Cam explained.

The business group, in partnership with the Department of Tourism held a soft launch for the San Juanico Cruise early November. Since then, the group have been doing promotional tour every weekend.

“The promotional tour is our way of trying to get enough support and build up the market,” Cam added.

DOT Regional Karina Rosa Tiopes said the initial plan was to build a jetty port in Magsaysay Boulevard for the cruise, but with the absence of funds, the group tapped the existing city port.

“We are marketing San Juanico as the main attraction, because this not just the longest bridge in the country, but this is also an engineering marvel,” Tiopes said.

“We are happy that the government and private sector are on board to add new tourism products not just for the city, but for neighboring areas in Samar. We cannot be a standalone destination because there are less natural resources in the city.”

The 18-kilometer route of the cruise starts from downtown area in Tacloban City then under the majestic 2.1 kilometer San Juanico Bridge that links Leyte and Samar province. It takes about two hours to complete the trip either for sunrise or sunset.

The promotional rate is PHP550 promo for each of the 15 participants, inclusive of breakfast or dinner.

Stations will also be put in place to showcase the different sceneries in the area. Floating restaurants are also planned to be put up in some parts of Samar.

If there are no tourists, the boat can also be used to transport passengers from downtown to relocation sites in the northern part of the city.

The business group conceptualized the new tourism product to help fisher folks in new relocation sites to have alternative sources of income. (PNA)

FFC/SQM

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