The Hundred Islands National Park (HINP) has welcomed some 500 foreign guests and Filipino crew of the first luxury cruise ship to visit the park during the pandemic.
In a statement obtained by the Philippine News Agency on Monday, the City Tourism Office said the guests arrived at the national park from Singapore on Sunday onboard MV Star Breeze. From the Philippines, the ship will proceed to Hong Kong.
MV Star Breeze is the first to visit the park as travel restrictions were eased since the pandemic started in 2020.
The Quezon Island in the national park where the luxury cruise ship’s guests were received was closed to other visitors on Sunday.
They were greeted with cultural presentations and served with the delicacies of Pangasinan, including the famous longganisa of Alaminos City.
The guests went hopping with motorboats specifically at the Pilgrimage, Ramos, Quezon, Governor’s, Lopez, Mimpis and Marcos islands where they enjoyed the sceneries and water and eco-sports activities.
City tourism officer Miguel Sison, in a recent interview, said two more international cruise ships –MS Minerva and MS Seaborn Sojourn, are tentatively arriving on May 10 and June 8, respectively.
“We have been preparing for the return of these cruise ships to showcase the beauty of the Hundred Islands as well as the different activities and products of the whole province of Pangasinan,” he said.
The HINP recorded 389,006 tourist arrivals from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2022.
Of this number, Sison said 118,459 were local tourists or those from Pangasinan, 267,567 were domestic tourists or those from Philippine areas outside Pangasinan, and the rest were foreign tourists.
“The number of tourists increased since the restrictions were eased in 2022,” he added.
The HINP generated at least PHP33.3 million in income in 2022, surpassing its PHP25-million target last year.
Although the number of tourist arrivals has not yet fully returned to its pre-pandemic level of 520,000 in 2019, the number is already beyond the 93,000 visitors to the national park in 2020 and the 50,000 in 2021. (PNA)