TACLOBAN CITY — During its five-day stay in Eastern Visayas, an Australian cruise ship has been visiting popular local spots that are usually undiscovered by international visitors.
For the first time since 2013, tourist destinations like Tacloban City, the islands of Sambawan and Maripipi in Biliran and Biri Island in Northern Samar have been added to cruise itineraries in the Philippines.
This is expected to open the door for more international visitors in the years to come, according to a local tourism officer.
The "patience, persistence, and passion of each stakeholder" were key factors in the Coral Adventurer's visit to Eastern Visayas, according to Department of Tourism Regional Director Karina Rosa Tiopes.
"The effort that each of us put in to make this a reality was more than compensated for by their kind words and joyful smiles," she explained.
Before sailing to Bohol, the Australian cruise ship Coral Adventurer, carrying 73 passengers, stopped in the villages of Inopacan, Hindang and Matalom on the western side of Leyte, as well as the islands of Biri, Sambawan and Maripipi.
It also visited the Capul Islands in Northern Samar, the Cuatro Islands and Canigao Island.
After their return, the cruise ship will visit Kalanggaman in Palompon town, as well as diving areas in Padre Burgos and Limasawa Island in the province of Southern Leyte, to further discover the natural beauty of the Eastern Visayas.
According to Tiopes, the visitors were enthralled not only by the islands' breathtaking natural beauty — such as the well-known rock formations of Biri — but also by the unique local customs and culture of these regions.