THE Department of Tourism (DOT)-Davao is looking at Davao Region as one of the top destinations for cruise ships in the country, following the visit of a US-based cruise liner Zeghram Expeditions early this year.

DOT-Davao Director Roberto Alabado III said Sunday that there's still much to be done in terms of preparing the region for the cruises, most especially on infrastructure and logistics.

The region can only handle about 500 to 1,000 passengers, but anything more will require the tourism stakeholders to scale up its facilities, including the ports.

He recommended Sta. Ana Wharf to be developed for tourism, this being more fitting than the Sasa Port, which is designed for containers.

"Ang daming kakailangin, tapos hindi na alam kung saan mo sila dadalhin. It has to be planned carefully, the logistics will be great but we have to sustain even without the cruise passengers," he said, adding the region has attractions particularly the Island Garden City of Samal (Igacos).

Alabado said some of the players he had talked with are saying many passengers want new destinations to go to other than those in Singapore.

"Itong mga nasa Singapore, sawa na sa kanilang mga cruises, they are all looking for new destinations and the new destinations are all here in the Philippines," he said.

The official added that the cruise ship industry in the country is picking up, with ports of call situated in Manila, Puerto Princesa, and El Nido.

The Zeghram Expeditions brought to the city some 80 passengers.

"Sabi nila, we talked with cruise managers, the Philippines has gone so far in tourism," he said. The last time the cruise ship made a port of call in the city was in 1999.

The passengers were impressed with how they were welcomed.

"They have forgotten Philippines in the past decade, but when they saw what Philippines has to offer this year, they said they will be back," he added.