Philippine Department of Tourism rolls out cruise tourism strategy
The Department of Tourism (DOT) recently concluded a four-day workshop which brought together key personnel from the government infrastructure agencies, to firm up a cruise tourism strategy for the country.
The Cruise Strategy identified developments in the “Turquoise Triangle” linking the popular tourist destinations of Manila, Boracay, and Puerto Princesa in Palawan. The potential for new cruise destinations in the north of Luzon, where ships departing East Asian hubs can arrive after one day at sea, has likewise been pinpointed in the plan.
DOT Secretary Wanda Tulfo-Teo emphasized, “Once completed, the cruise strategy will pave the way for definitive actions and investments into infrastructure, facilities and services. Clearly, our job is to set up the enabling 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. Only then can we draw in the much-needed foreign direct investments to pump-prime the industry. We must surge ahead to build this multi-million dollar travel sector and disperse the economic benefits to the countryside.”
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.
Undersecretary Benito C. Bengzon, Jr., who heads the Cruise Tourism Development Committee for the Philippines said that in 2016, the Philippines has attracted just 72 cruise port calls, a relatively small share as compared to the top Asian ports which are Singapore with 374 port calls in 2014 and Jeju Island and Hongkong with 217 and 200, respectively.
“As a key element of our strategy, we are determined to build new dedicated cruise facilities, most especially in Manila. 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. Once here, they can achieve outstanding port density with efficient cruising speeds. “Future growth in cruise tourism is guaranteed with strong support from the government and private sectors, a highly professional and experienced network of port agents and tour operators, plus growing awareness from major cruise lines of all the Philippine archipelago has to offer” enthused Bengzon.
The draft strategy was 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. This jumpstarts the series of consultative workshops aimed at formulating action plans to implement the strategy.