Governor Imee R. Marcos welcomed last March 20 the maiden arrival of Star Cruises’ Superstar Virgo, a Hong Kong-owned luxury cruise ship, to the Port of Currimao, Ilocos Norte.
“We are honored by this auspicious occasion,” she said, “I’m thrilled to have this opportunity and certainly hopeful that you will be open and patient with us, and let us know what we need to change, how we can best present Ilocos Norte to your passengers.”
While local tourism industry has boomed since the onset of her governorship, the cruise ship arrival posed a new challenge to the provincial government.
Nevertheless the governor said, “The Filipino market is more than ready to start the fastest-growing sector of the tourism industry, the cruise lines,” congratulating Star Cruises for the company’s pioneering effort of coming to Ilocos Norte.
Provincial Tourism Officer Ianree Raquel said the arrival was “a true milestone for the province.”
Star Cruises has committed to visit the province every five days until May this year, bringing in thousands of local and international tourists.
“It’s a long cruise season… a bit busy for everybody, especially during Holy Week as there’s a schedule set for Good Friday,” Raquel added. In the Holy Week season of 2016 alone, over 400,000 day visitors were recorded.
Mr. Ang Moo Lim, president of Star Cruises, said, “We want to help boost the tourism economy of this region.”
The company was “the first major cruise line to recruit Filipinos and now we are pleased to be the first international cruise line to welcome Filipinos onboard as guests from our homeport in Manila,” he added.
The ship has a capacity of 2,600 passengers and carries a crew of 1,100.
Governor Marcos said, “we are very proud of the quality of Filipino talent, of Filipino service.”
From Manila, passengers arrived in Currimao. The Ilocos Norte Tourism Office (INTO) and other agencies took them to the different tourist destinations.
“There will be about fifteen trips that will be undertaken by Superstar Virgo until May 29,” said Gerome Balisi, terminal manager of the Currimao Port.
Superstar Virgo will visit here again on December until May 2018 which signals an aggressive tourism season for Ilocos Norte’s bicentennial foundation anniversary.
Likewise, CurrimaoVice Mayor Gladys Cue assured that the municipal government has been accelerating tourist programs in coordination with Governor Marcos, INTO, and local resorts, strategically marketing the town “as a very small town but owning the port entrance.”
After the Currimao said, the ship’s next stops will be Kaohsiung City, Taiwain, and Hong Kong before it returns to Manila on March 24.—(Mizpah Grace G. Castro and Glenn T. Batuyong, PGIN-CMO)