More port calls seen for PHL cruise tourism in coming years
MANILA, Dec. 29 (PNA) — More cruise ships called port in the Philippines this year with 72 cruise calls compared to the 52 cruise calls it acquired last year, the Department of Tourism (DOT) said Thursday.
Despite this increase, DOT Undersecretary Benito Bengzon, Jr., who heads the Cruise Tourism Development Committee for the Philippines said that it is still a relatively small share as compared to the top Asian ports.
Among the top Asian ports are Singapore with 374 port calls in 2014 and Jeju Island and Hong Kong with 217 and 200, respectively.
Bengzon, however, was optimistic that the numbers will continue to grow especially with the recent launch of a National Cruise Tourism Development Strategy, a series of workshops, and the construction of a new international cruise terminal in Manila within the current administration.
The draft strategy has so far been presented by CHART Management Consulting. It was commissioned by the United States Agency for Development (USAID) and the DOT to lead a team in undertaking extensive field work, interviews, analysis, and direction.
“A superior cruise port and terminal in the capital, with its extensive airlift and ground facilities, will create a compelling reason for large ships to spend time in the Philippines,” Bengzon said.
The Cruise Strategy identified developments in the “Turquoise Triangle” linking the popular tourist destinations of Manila, Boracay, and Puerto Princesa in Palawan.
Bengzon said that the same plan determines potential for new cruise destinations in the north of Luzon, where ships departing East Asian hubs can arrive after one day at sea.
He further noted that future growth in cruise tourism is guaranteed with strong support from both public and private sectors, professional and experienced network of port agents and tour operators, and growing awareness from major cruise lines of all the Philippine archipelago has to offer.
DOT Secretary Wanda Teo echoed Bengzon noting that once the terminal is completed, it will slowly start enabling an environment for businesses to thrive.
“These include enhancement of ship access through the development of port and shore-side infrastructure; facilitation of business entry and offering exciting tour packages, among others,” Teo said.
Cruise tourism is one of the nine product portfolios identified in the DOT’s National Tourism Development Plan (NTDP) that will enhance the competitiveness of the country as a tourist destination in the Asia Pacific region.
The other products are nature-based; cultural, sun and beach; MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions); leisure and entertainment; diving and marine sports; health, wellness and retirement; and, educational tourism. (PNA)