A subsidiary of flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) is planning to open a direct sea route between the resort island of Mactan in Cebu and Tagbilaran City in a bid to draw more tourists to the province of Bohol.
The sea trips of Mabuhay Maritime Express Transport Inc., were initially intended to cater to tourists bound for Boracay but the plan shifted to Bohol amid the island’s closure, said a local PAL official who spoke on condition of anonymity for lack of clearance to discuss the matter.
Mabuhay Maritime will particularly cater to PAL’s airline passengers arriving and departing through the Mactan-Cebu International Airport, said the source.
Initial plans also indicated that PAL, Mabuhay Maritime’s majority owner, intends to use two fastcrafts to ply the Tagbilaran-Mactan route.
However, the source did not elaborate further on the plan as the project is still being finalized.
For his part, Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) Tagbilaran manager Engr. James Gantalao confirmed that he has been made aware of the project.
The PPA is now awaiting PAL’s announcement on when the vessels will start to operate in Tagbilaran, he said.
According to the PAL official, Mabuhay Maritime was already moving to establish the sea route between Mactan and Kalibo, Aklan to cut travel time for tourists bound for Boracay Island.
President Duterte’s order to close Boracay for a six-month rehabilitation starting late last month however prompted PAL to offer sea transportation to Tagbilaran instead.
Earlier, tourism officials including Department of Tourism (DOT) Central Visayas director Shalimar Hofer Tamano said that Bohol should prepare for an increase in tourist arrivals amid the Boracay shutdown.
Tamano issued the statement after DOT Secretary Corazon Wanda Teo pinpointed Bohol and Cebu as alternatives to Boracay.
The regional director also called for the creation of more accommodation options and improvement of security in the province as part of preparations for the projected increase in tourist influx, not only due to the Boracay closure, but also the nearing completion of the Panglao-Bohol International Airport. (A. Doydora)