THE EXPANDED Salomague Port in Ilocos Sur, located about 430 kilometers north of Manila, will be formally inaugurated on Thursday in anticipation of the revival of the tourism industry, the Transportation department said.

Developed as a cruise port, completed construction works include a reinforced concrete platform back-up area and pier extension.

“The completed development projects in Salomague Port are expected to promote local economic sufficiency as job opportunities, especially in the tourism sector, will be offered once the port becomes fully operational,” the Department of Transportation (DoTr) said in a statement on Wednesday.

The port is close to tourist areas and beaches in Ilocos Sur and Ilocos Norte.

Noting proximity to Hong Kong and south China ports, the DoTr said that it expects cruises to the Philippines to increase.

“Before the pandemic, several regional cruise operators have already included the Ilocos region in their regular rotations,” DoTr said.

The department last year said the cruise port was already in use but will be formally inaugurated.

Cruise companies across the globe are experiencing setbacks as they try to restart operations amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

British firm Cunard Line recently confirmed that crew members have tested positive for the virus ahead of its restart, while Royal Caribbean Cruise delayed its Hong Kong “cruises to nowhere” launch to follow local vaccination and quarantine rules.

Philippine tourism revenues last year dropped 83% to P81.4 billion after pandemic-related restrictions prompted a significant decline in both domestic travel and foreign visitors. — Jenina P. Ibañez